Abta has partnered with Axa to launch a new travel insurance product, Abta Travel Sure, which it will sell direct to consumers and via its members.

The association’s new product includes Covid-19 cover as standard for both medical claims abroad and for cancellation prior to travel if the holder falls ill with coronavirus and is unable to travel or has to self-isolate.

Abta’s head of insurance Ian Hall said three levels of cover were offered for both single trip and annual multi-trip policies, all of which were “5-star Defaqto-rated”.

“This is the first time that three levels of cover, all of which are 5-star Defaqto-rated, have been available on the market,” he said.

Abta members will have the opportunity to promote Abta Travel Sure which, depending on their level of involvement, may require them to become either an Introducer Appointed Representative or Appointed Representative.

Hall said: “A lot of agents moved away from selling travel insurance when new regulations took hold, but if they want to be serious about it, then this is a high quality product for them to sell or promote.”

He said most members would probably take the “lighter touch” IAR option, whereby they promote the policy but direct their customers to Abta to buy it, earning themselves a commission.

Larger members “with clever systems, who want to integrate this into their customer journey, with a bit of training”, might opt for full AR status and higher earning potential, he added.

Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer said launching a new travel insurance product was part of the association’s strategic plan established three years ago, alongside creating an events business, to “diversify its revenues to help keep membership fees down”.

He said the launch was timely “as people start to travel again or at least are booking”, following the pandemic.

“But there is a lot of uncertainty out there. Getting travel corridors open is one thing, but reassuring people is another. We felt a product launched by two strong brands will help build customer confidence.”

Tanzer said recent consumer research had found that 30% of respondents were more likely to take out travel insurance now than pre-Covid-19.

And he insisted the Abta Travel Sure policy was not just an updated version of its old AbtaSure product, but something totally new.

“We had AbtaSure for ages but it lost momentum and we weren’t really focused on it,” he said. “This is a very different thing. It’s a new partner and a new product.”

Tanzer added that there was “plenty of room for other Abta partners who sell travel insurance” in the market.

Hall said: “We have known for some time that there is demand in the market for a travel insurance product that consumers can put their trust in and having initially put our plans to launch Abta Travel Sure on hold because of the pandemic we are now in a position to assist the industry in its recovery.

“The consumer awareness and trust in the Abta brand means we are well placed to provide this service and we’re confident that after this initial roll out Abta Travel Sure will provide members with a long term opportunity to benefit.”