2.8 million Australians have had their travel plans interrupted by a weather event in the last 12 months according to research from Southern Cross Travel Insurance

27 February 2024 by Southern Cross Travel Insurance

Key findings from the research include:

  • 2.8 million Australians say they have had their travel plans interrupted by a weather event while travelling interstate or overseas over the last 12 months.
    • 2.1 million Australians admitted to having their domestic travel plans interrupted by a weather event in the last 12 months
    • 1 million Australians admitted to having their overseas travel plans interrupted by a weather event in the last 12 months
  • Nearly three in five (57%) Australians who travelled overseas in the last 12 months experienced issues with their travel plans.
  • Issues most commonly experienced before or during an overseas trip were:

    • 14% - travel disruption caused by an illness or injury, other than COVID-19
    • 32% - airline related issues such as lost luggage, flight delays or cancellations
    • 13% - problems with their accommodation booking

Southern Cross Travel Insurance has today announced the latest instalment of its Future of Travel 2024 research which was commissioned to better understand Australian attitudes towards travel. The findings reveal that disruption continues to be an enduring concern for the  Australian travel industry following COVID-19, with the impact of climate now emerging as a major factor influencing Australians’ travel behaviour.

Despite a slight improvement in travel disruption and a significant reduction in COVID-19-related disruption last year, compared to 2022, a staggering 2.8 million Australians had their travel plans interrupted by a weather event in the last 12 months. 2.1 million Australians experienced domestic travel interruptions related to adverse weather conditions and 1 million Australians had their overseas travel impacted. 

Amongst Australian travellers who have had travel plans disrupted by adverse weather events, nearly nine in ten (86%) say it has impacted their future travel choices, with timing of travel (42%), choice of destination (35%) and choice of activities and whether to pre-book activities (34%).

Travellers from New South Wales were four times as likely as Queenslanders to have experienced an adverse weather event in the past, either before or during their overseas travel over the last 12 months (13% compared to 3%) despite there being no significant differences between New South Wales and Queensland with respect to the proportion of people who have travelled.

“Given where we’re at with climate change, this trend may come in waves but won’t go away. We are likely to see increased consumer awareness around sustainable practices and their impact on the environment, alongside greater flexibility around travel bookings, choice and payment options. The industry will need to adapt to this quickly,” says Jo McCauley, CEO at Southern Cross Travel Insurance.

Concerningly, although travel disruption has improved slightly since 2022 (57% experienced travel disruptions in 2023, compared to 74% in 2022) the issues faced by the travel industry continue to pose a problem. The research found lost luggage, flight delays or cancellations (32%), illness/injury during or immediately before their trip (excluding Covid-19) (14%), and problems with their accommodation booking (13%) were the issues most commonly experienced by Australian overseas travellers during 2023.

While it’s not been smooth sailing, Australians’ appetite for travel continues to grow, with 91% of respondents planning to travel in 2024. But with cost of living pressures having a major impact on travel behaviour, consumers are making trade-offs. Among these, the most concerning is that 13% of Australians planning to travel in the next 12 months claim they won’t purchase travel insurance as a way to save costs due to financial pressures.

When asked about key features Australians would be looking for in their travel insurance policy, travellers ranked price (47%) as the most important feature, followed by the ability to choose different levels of cover (16%), and previous experience (15%). Amongst Australians who plan to travel and purchase travel insurance in the next 12 months, the proportion rating price as their most important consideration has increased significantly over the past 12 months from 27% to 47% and is now the main driver of travel insurance purchases. 

COVID-19 cover has become less of a consideration with the number of Australians who rank level of COVID-19 cover among the top three most important features of travel insurance, declining sharply in 2023 (from 49% in 2022 to 32% in 2023).

McCauley explains how ongoing travel disruption experienced in Australia last year and the rising cost of claims highlight the need for travel insurance.

Many Australians made claims through Southern Cross Travel Insurance last year due to travel disruptions, with the average claim cost for domestic travel ($1,163) only slightly less expensive than the average claim cost for international travel ($1,369). The increase in domestic travel costs in Australia is one of the main reasons why the international claim costs and domestic claim costs are costing almost the same.

The most common claims for international travel were relating to medical and evacuation (35%), loss of baggage and personal items (30%) and customers needing to make changes to their travel plans after they have left (16%).

“In today’s economic climate, it can be very tempting to forgo insurance to reduce travel costs, but the real cost for travellers who take that risk is far greater. This year’s research proves there is a growing list of disruptions that should remind consumers to expect the unexpected and ensure they’re sufficiently insured,” says McCauley.

SCTI currently receives a 4.7-star rating (out of 5 stars) from more than 3,0310 reviews and is the number one rated travel insurer on ProductReview.com.au.

The research took place in January 2024 and was conducted by YouGov. A nationally representative sample of 1,018 Australians aged 18 years and older took part in the online survey. 

For more information, please visit www.scti.com.au