The seemingly endless nationwide pandemic lockdown has resulted in a lot of pent-up travel demand.
As the second major long holiday weekend of summer gets underway, people looking to celebrate Independence Day are getting in their cars and campers for road trips — deemed by many a safer bet than air or cruise travel.
“After weeks of being home, many Americans want a change of scenery,” said Giorgos Zacharia, chief technology officer of travel site Kayak.com. “But, with international travel restrictions still in place and safety top of mind, road trips are most enticing to U.S. travelers right now.” Kayak found that car rental searches for the July 4 weekend were up 20% compared to last year.
Brittney Castro, in-house certified financial planner for personal financial management site Mint.com, said most people have not spent much money on travel so far this year.
“Most do have some sort of monthly travel budget and I think now they are reassessing their travel goals and savings and saying let’s now use this money for a road trip,” she said.
While AAA did not release projections for July 4 travel, it did say Americans will take a collective 700 million trips this summer, and 97% of them will be driving. (Just 15 million people will fly, meanwhile, vs. 58 million a year ago.) The American Hotel & Lodging Association, for its part, found that 72% of people planning a trip will take an overnight vacation via car over the next five months. Of those, 75% expect to drive two or more hours.
All those hours on the road can mean a lot of wear and tear — on vehicles, timetables and traveler tempers — and insurance firms are taking note, rolling out new travel plans aimed specifically at road trippers or reminding RV and auto owners of the practicalities and perils of vehicle insurance policies. Here’s a look at what’s on offer.
Peace of mind on the road
Domestic trips now comprise the majority of all insured travel at online trip insurance marketplace Squaremouth.com, up from just 12.3% in 2019, according to spokesperson Kasara Barto. “As more people start traveling domestically, road trips may become a more popular trip type,” she said. “We’re definitely seeing a spike.”
Customers visiting the site, which offers policies from 31 travel insurance providers, have increasingly inquired about road trip coverage. Historically, motor holidays — unlike air-based trips or cruises — were not insured, said Barto.
Competing site InsureMyTrip.com also predicts more travel insurance providers will be offering some type of road trip coverage, “as the industry adjusts to travel restrictions and health considerations due to the pandemic,” according to spokesperson Julie Loffredi.
Two travel insurers recently debuted plans tailored to road trippers. Indianapolis-based Seven…
Read More: Before you hit the highway, the ins and outs of road trip insurance