Q&A: Sasha Gainullin, CEO of travel insurance company battleface

Published On: July 25, 2023Categories: Insurance

After years of the pandemic and travel disruption, in 2023 travellers are opting for more adventurous and longer holidays. Experiences are key with today’s travellers wanting to explore exotic locations and do fun things. Our rediscovered wanderlust should however be balanced with some common sense.

As CEO of global travel insurance company battleface, Sasha Gainullin knows a thing or two about the highs and lows of travel. Here he gives an insight into upcoming holiday trends, explores the hazards people may face while on vacation and looks at the importance of risk assessments and insurance when planning a trip.

Forest fires, mentioned by CEO of travel insurance company as one of the reasons for travel disruptions

Forest fires have already disrupted holiday makers this year, forcing evacuations and cancellations…

RiskPal: Are we going to see a holiday boom as the world recovers from the pandemic and its restrictions?

Sasha: We’ve seen tremendous growth in the travel industry in recent years. Even during the pandemic, when travelling was still an issue, people were travelling – obviously in a very careful manner.

Adventure travel, or active travel as we call it, is becoming much more of a priority with everyday travellers. People want to spend more time outside, booking more active trips such as hiking or scuba diving.

In terms of destinations, for a while now we have seen an appetite to travel to more far-flung destinations. Travellers have an appetite to venture off the beaten track, whether it’s exploring more remote areas in well-travelled countries such as France and Spain or less-travelled countries around world. We are also seeing an uptick in multi-destination trips as well as ‘bleisure’ travel, travel that combines elements of both business and leisure.

Back to travelling while still purchasing from travel insurance company

RiskPal: How expensive is travel insurance these days after the big shocks of recent times, such as the pandemic and the situation in Ukraine?

Sasha: It hasn’t changed dramatically. The cost of travel insurance is determined by the destination you are travelling to as well as other factors such as the activities you’re planning to do there, the overall cost of the trip, or your personal profile including your age and current health.

It goes without saying that insurance costs will be vastly more expensive if you travel to more high-risk countries or more secluded areas like Antarctica, where the costs to evacuate someone are very high. Most Antarctica operators will require you to have emergency evacuation, repatriation and medical cover up to USD 200,000 in place before you travel.

RiskPal: With a cost-of-living crisis, do you think the average holidaymaker will be tempted to forgo travel insurance?

Sasha: No, I don’t think so. It’s actually the opposite, because travellers are more aware of what they must do to protect themselves and the risks they are facing. In the UK, the media does a really good job of outlining some worst-case scenarios that could happen to you if you travel without relevant insurance. We’ve all seen the stories about somebody who’s stuck in a hospital in the United States with thousands of dollars of medical bills, or who has become unwell in Thailand and can’t be transported back to the UK.

RiskPal: What risks do typical holidaymakers face and what are the most common assistance requests travel insurance company battleface receives?

Sasha: In terms of risks, issues like civil unrest, terrorist activities, pandemics, and natural disasters are becoming more and more of a potential risk to travellers. For example, right now, it’s hurricane season in the US so travellers should plan accordingly and look into getting the right travel insurance coverage in place.

However, the greatest challenge travellers are facing right now is all the disruptions taking place due to airlines cancelling flights and airports being either understaffed or underperforming. The travel industry is not as efficient as it was prior to the pandemic and today’s travellers must be more flexible with their bookings.

One of our main assistance requests is helping clients navigating foreign healthcare systems during a medical emergency. Healthcare is hard enough to navigate in your home country, let alone in a foreign location where travellers don’t speak the local language. And of course, repatriations are extremely complex and hard to organise. At battleface we have doctors on hand to help our travellers with medical emergencies and repatriation matters.

RiskPal: Does your average holidaymaker need to do a risk assessment before they go on vacation?

Sasha: It depends on what you plan to do. If you’re going to spend your whole trip in an all-inclusive resort in Turkey for example, then spending a lot of time doing a risk assessment is probably unnecessary.

But if you are more spontaneous or adventurous, then a risk assessment is a sensible approach. It all depends on where you are going, what type of activities you are planning on doing there, who you are, and who you are with. The more adventurous, less defined the plans or unfamiliar you are with your destination, the greater the need for doing a risk assessment. I would recommend that solo travellers do a risk assessment prior to any trip.

Antarctica mentioned as an expensive destination to insure by travel insurance company

RiskPal: What are the most surprising destinations for battleface?

Sasha: There was a trend for a while for people to go skiing in Afghanistan. Exploratory trips to Antarctica also seem to be quite popular nowadays. Another adventure travel destination for certain travellers is the Darién Gap, between Panama and Colombia. This is a very specific traveller type, and we’re not talking about massive numbers.

RiskPal: Do people need travel insurance if they are doing a staycation?

Sasha: It depends on the country. The most relevant benefit for staycations is trip cancellation, for example. If you have an expensive booking and something happens, meaning you can’t go, you should look at the options available to you before booking. How can you get your money back in case of unforeseen emergencies?

Within geographically larger countries like the US, Canada or Australia, domestic benefits are still very relevant for travel.

Sasha Gainullin, CEO of travel insurance company Battleface

The top tip for travellers is flexibility. Another tip is to research your destination and pre-plan activities you want to do when you get there to make sure you have the relevant coverage in place.” – Sasha Gainullin

RiskPal: What would you recommend holidaymakers do this year to stay safe?

Sasha: The top tip is flexibility. Have an open mind right now because things could change quite rapidly.

Another tip is to research your destination and pre-plan activities you want to do when you get there to make sure you have the relevant coverage in place. For example, if you want to go scuba diving, make sure that you have the right insurance policy behind you which specifically covers diving. I highly recommend you read the small print, so you know exactly what is and is not covered in your policy for a stress-free trip.

About battleface:

battleface, Inc. is a full-stack global company enabling customers and partners to easily select travel insurance products and services that perfectly fit their needs. Access to custom built embedded products, relevant benefits and responsive customer service from any device, any time, any place – welcome to a better insurance experience.

More information about the travel insurance company battleface can be found at: https://www.battleface.com/en-gb/

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