Having offices in multipe countries, our employees travel between countries with relativie frequency. It got me thinking about the importance of having a good system in place for sending employees abroad I asked Dan Skilken of Tripinsurance.com to offer some advice on the business of… well, business travel, this is what he had to say:
The downturn in the economy and improvements in teleconferencing technology has been undercutting business travel, but there are times when your corporate road warriors have to go talk to customers and partners in person. Those are the times when you want to make sure you protect your employees, particularly when they are traveling abroad.
According to a survey by Chubb Insurance Group, more employees are refusing to travel to risky foreign destinations unless their employer provides adequate support services. The Chubb research states:
“Many employees, however, said they would take the trip if their employers provided access to one or more services. Forty-two percent would go if their employer provided access to reliable emergency medical services, while almost half (47%) would travel if their employer provided pre-travel information about the country. Thirty-eight percent would take the trip if their employer provided access to legal assistance abroad.”
Concerns about terrorism, political unrest and infectious disease are on the rise, and business travelers are demanding that their employers make provisions and provide insurance before they leave the country. And companies are listening and taking steps to protect their employees on the road. Here are just a few of the steps that companies should adopt to protect their workers:
Pre-trip planning – Traveling abroad requires an extra degree of preparation. There are a number of factors that the employer should consider before sending their employees into a foreign country, such as immunizations, visa and passport requirements, foreign exchange rates, embassy and consular contacts, local cultural information and travel advisories. Also, be sure that you research hotels, transportation and travel routes before departing. Make sure the employees have a set itinerary with a packet of updated travel logistics so they know where they are going, where to avoid and what to do if they become lost or stranded, and so you know where they are supposed to be at all times.
Emergency travel assistance – Make sure your employees have a lifeline. Some accident plans allow employers to offer workers emergency travel services, such as emergency cash advances with confirmation of reimbursement, emergency message relays to family and friends, emergency legal assistance and interpreters, etc.
Identity theft coverage – Employers who want to go the extra mile, provide employees with identity theft coverage as part of a Business Travel Accident plan. Identity theft coverage includes additional services for employees on the road, such as a $1,000 cash advance, translators to assist with local authorities, assistance in making travel arrangements, and the like. Also included in these plans are standard services such as notifying credit card companies and assistance in replacing stolen documents.
Travel insurance – A good trip insurance program will provide peace of mind and address most of the concerns that business professionals have when traveling abroad. Emergency evacuation coverage, for example, provides protection in the event of disaster or civil unrest. Consider when the U.S. issued a travel warning in Egypt prior to the revolution, a group of students were evacuated to Paris to continue their studies. They had travel insurance that paid $50,000 in evacuation-related costs. The same is true for emergency medical insurance. If there is a medical emergency that the local medical professionals can’t deal with, insurance will pay to get you to a hospital that can treat you. Without insurance, an emergency medical evacuation can cost up to $100,000. And even if you need routine medical care, travel insurance will cover you overseas where the employer’s medical plan can’t. Those are expenses that the company would have to pay if the employee wasn’t insured.
Travel insurance offers other benefits for business travelers and businesses as well. For example, if a flight is canceled, trip interruption coverage can cover the cost of a new ticket. Or, if travelers are delayed due to inclement weather or other circumstances, travel delay coverage can cover the cost of a hotel and meals. That kind of coverage can save the company a lot of expense money and, at the same time, it gives travelers peace of mind. It also shows employees how much the company cares about its workers.
So when sending your employees overseas, it pays to plan ahead. Preparation is the best way to prevent unforeseen problems away from home. Make sure that you have the proper travel insurance coverage and a 24/7 lifeline that can help when something does happen. It’s the best way to protect your employees and promote peace-of-mind.