Christmas and the New Year have been and gone, and the gloomy weather and dark evenings have many of us thinking ahead to how – and where – to spend the summer.
After years of pandemic restrictions, economic fears and geopolitical conflicts, experts predict that 2024 will be the biggest year on record for global travel. With over-tourism becoming a major issue, it’s important to consider the impact we have on the planet and local communities.
A study released by Nature Climate Change estimates that tourism now accounts for a hefty eight percent of all carbon emissions worldwide; with transport alone accounting for nearly half of these.
Thankfully there are ways you can reduce the impact of your holiday, including choosing a travel insurer that helps to protect the planet and its people as well as you and your family.
Here are our top four:
Travel insurance broker Naturesave donates 10 per cent of the premium you pay to its dedicated charity The Naturesave Trust. The trust provides grants to environmental projects, funds sustainability advice for SMEs and plants a tree for every insurance policy taken out.
Naturesave has a unique no-fly holiday incentive scheme where its staff are encouraged to avoid air travel. All staff are offered up to four days extra paid annual leave (or ‘no fly days’) when they choose to travel overland instead of flying. The firm founded the Climate Perks campaign to promote the initiative to other businesses.
Through its ‘Campaign for Divestment’, the company lobbies the insurance industry to urgently divest from the fossil fuel industries that harm the planet and the people living on it.
Travel insurance is available either as a stand alone option, or as part of Naturesave’s Home Insurance package. The maximum period for any one trip is 60 days, with winter sports included for up to 17 days. Naturesave also plants a tree for every insurance policy it issues.
Naturesave’s policies are underwritten by AXA, which although far from environmentally perfect, is regarded by Naturesave as an industry leader because it is divesting from fossil fuel assets and refusing to insure new fossil fuel projects.
However, AXA is criticised by the Good Shopping Guide for financing Elbit systems, Israel’s leading arms company, which is known for supplying weapons that have already killed and injured many people, including children. It has also been called out for funding companies and industries implicated in human rights abuses, such as Qatari companies involved in the exploitation of migrant workers.
In June 2022, Totnes-based Naturesave was bought by Lloyd & Whyte, a broker within the Benefact Group. The Benefact Group is itself owned by a charity and all profits go towards good causes. The Benefact Group’s investments are handled by sustainable investment specialists EdenTree.
“If you think you’re too small to make a difference, you’ve never been in bed with a mosquito” – World Nomads quotes Anita Roddick of the Body Shop to portray the positive potential travel can have.
When you buy travel insurance with World Nomads, you have the option to add a ‘micro donation’ to your policy price to help fund a community development project.
World Nomads partners with reputable global charities and non-profit organisations such as Oxfam, Water Aid, Save the Children and Sea Turtle Conservancy to help you give back to the places you travel to. It absorbs the administration costs so that 100 per cent of your donation goes directly to the project of your choice.
Since 2004, the insurer has donated more than £3 million to 268 sustainability projects worldwide. It also has lots of handy articles and a Responsible Travel Guide on its website offering tips on how to be a more sustainable traveler.
World Nomads’ travel insurance policies are underwritten by XL Catlin Insurance Company UK Limited, which is fully owned by AXA and registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (see above for more on AXA).
Evergreen Insurance partners with Sun World and Just Travel Cover for travel insurance. It then donates a portion of its commission (up to 25 per cent, depending on how long you’ve been with them) to a wildlife or nature charity of your choice. This makes it an unusual entity in the world of insurance, which is traditionally driven by profit.
The charities spend the money in different ways; rehabilitation of animals, educating people, reducing waste and creating environments for nature to thrive. You can choose where you want your money to go from a panel of 24 organisations.
As well as travel insurance it also offers home, pet, life, car and gadget policies.
Sun World is underwritten by Inter Partner Assistance SA UK Branch (part of the AXA Group) and Just Travel Cover is underwritten by Liberty Mutual Insurance Europe SE
Ethical travel specialist Responsible Travel has teamed up with Columbus Direct to create an insurance product where you can get a discount and donate money to charity – you can choose how much you do of both.
Responsible Travel customers get a 20 per cent discount on normal Columbus rates to play with. You can choose between taking all the discount yourself, giving it all to charity, or taking half as a discount and giving half to charity.
Responsible Travel donates money from its travellers to four charities: The World Cetacean Alliance, Elephant Family, All Out Africa Foundation and Surfers Against Sewage.
It also screens all of its trips for their commitment to responsible tourism. You can read about the specific good they do on each holiday page. Plus, when you travel with Responsible Travel, it will fund a day out for a child from a disadvantaged background.