As we prepare for the Government to release guidance for international travel for Summer 2021 over the coming days, the topic of whether the Government will introduce a vaccine passport is still up for debate.

Interested to see what people think about vaccine passports and how the travel insurance industry might be impacted by these changes, we asked our Smart Money People reviewers what they thought.

Commenting on the results, Jacqueline Dewey, CEO of Smart Money People, said: “As we await the Government’s guidance on travel, the way we feel about vaccine passports and travel insurance has struck a chord with our reviewers, who are an opinionated bunch – as you might expect. While vaccine passports are clearly a divisive topic, 64.3% of our reviewers were happy to see them introduced, and over 50% felt that holding a vaccine passport should entitle them to cheaper travel insurance.

“Over 66% of our reviewers felt that travel insurance providers should offer them a refund on unused policies due to Government guidance. Given the moves some of the car insurance providers took last year to offer refunds, and another summer of uncertain travel plans ahead, we will be looking to travel insurance providers to see how they withstand the change in demand for this year, and whether they offer travellers any incentives for taking out new policies.”

Here's a closer look at the findings from our survey, which over 830 Smart Money People reviewers answered. 

Should vaccine passports be introduced to allow you to travel more freely?

64.3% of Smart Money People reviewers told us they agreed or strongly agreed with the introduction of vaccine passports. On the other hand, 27.3% said they disagreed or strongly disagreed.

The results from this question were: 

Strongly disagree20.91%
Neither agree nor disagree8.41%
Strongly agree39.54%

When we asked our reviewers why they felt like this, the most common themes that we saw were:

  • Freedom – Reviewers liked that passports would give them the ability to travel but some were also concerned that vaccine passports would remove the freedom to choose to have the vaccine
  • A vaccine passport would increase your confidence to travel and make you feel travelling was safer
  • Several of you were concerned about how easily the vaccine passports could be forged, defeating the point of them
  • Many of you compared the vaccine passport for coronavirus to the paperwork you need to have for yellow fever vaccinations to travel to certain countries, and how they were similar in nature
  • If vaccine passports do get introduced, you felt that the passports should be 2-way; so people coming to the UK should also be required to have the passport proving they’ve been vaccinated. 

One of our reviewers who strongly agreed with getting a vaccine passport said: “It's win-win situation, we can travel to other countries, and it's safer and easier for other countries to accept us entering to their countries. Most importantly, it encourages people to get vaccine!

However, a reviewer who strongly disagreed said: “People have a choice to get the vaccine or not, it is a basic human right. Introducing a vaccine passport impacts on that, as well as our freedom and access to basic facilities. It will also introduce discrimination and can cause conflict. People can always get tested for covid if e.g. a more effective lateral flow kit is provided. There are other ways of managing this rather than a passport.”

Should travel insurance providers offer you a cheaper insurance policy if you have a vaccine passport?

50.2% of Smart Money People reviewers agreed or strongly agreed that if they had a vaccine passport, travel insurance providers should offer them a cheaper policy to go away. 27.9% of our reviewers disagreed or strongly disagreed with getting a cheaper travel insurance policy if they held a vaccine passport.

The full results from this question:

Strongly disagree18.36%
Neither agree nor disagree21.86%
Strongly agree24.52%

When asked why they had these opinions, the most common themes we saw were:

  • You felt you would be less of a burden on visiting countries if you were less likely to catch the virus
  • On the same lines, those who agreed felt that you reduce the risk if you’ve had the vaccine, therefore you’re less likely to claim on your insurance policy
  • Some of you raised that travel insurance now doesn’t cover Covid, so it’s very unlikely that this sort of pricing incentive would be introduced
  • Many of you were concerned that any pricing done on the basis of holding a vaccine passport would need to be fair, and ensure people who legitimately couldn’t have the Covid-19 vaccine wouldn’t be affected negatively
  • A proportion of you also felt that you shouldn’t travel until the virus has gone

One of our reviewers who agreed said: “Insurance is risk based. If I can demonstrate I have reduced my risk, I should have a lower premium.”

However, one of our reviewers who strongly disagreed with a reduced policy due to holding a vaccine passport said: “It would be far better to test for Covid prior to departure and on arrival. Also, travel insurance policies won't necessarily cover Covid-related risks.”

Should travel insurance providers offer you a refund if you haven’t been able to go away due to Government restrictions?

Last year we saw some car insurance providers offer their customers a partial refund on their insurance policy to recognise that people hadn’t been using their cars during the lockdown.

66.3% of Smart Money People reviewers agreed or strongly agreed that travel insurance providers should also do the same as in the car insurance industry and offer a refund to recognise that you hadn’t been able to go away due to Government restrictions. Only 11.9% disagreed or strongly disagreed with travel insurance companies offering you a refund on an unused travel insurance policy.

The full results from this question:

Strongly disagree6.02%
Neither agree nor disagree21.78%
Strongly agree34.06%

When asked why they felt that way, the common themes we saw from our reviewers were:

  • You suggested that if travel insurance companies were unable to offer a refund on their policies, they should consider offering extended cover or a discount on the renewal price
  • Many of you felt that if the Government guidance is not to travel, you were not able to use the product, therefore you should get a refund
  • A few of you who disagreed with getting a refund raised that the insurers still have staff to pay, so offering their customers a refund was not practical
  • Some of you mentioned that insurers should be consider when a holiday was booked and the insurance policy taken out, in line with when any Government guidance on travel was issued, to make it fair

One of our reviewers who strongly agreed with getting a refund on their travel insurance policy when unused said: “You can't use it, you should get a refund - at least partially. It's different from if you choose not to travel.” 

One reviewer who strongly disagreed with receiving a refund for an unused travel insurance policy raised the point “Insurance companies still have staff to pay.”

We'd love to hear your thoughts and whether you are surprised by our findings. Let us know by sending us a message on our socials: TwitterFacebookLinkedIn.

Thank you to the over 830 Smart Money People reviewers in our community who responded to our email and for sharing their thoughts.