Injury, Illness and Uprisings

Have you taken the necessary steps to protect your employees who are traveling for business and to manage your costs? With business travel on the rise, both nationally and globally, the potential for increased employee exposures and their costs has become an essential component of risk management today. Risk and Insurance gives us insight into the growing risks and how to manage them. 

082014_12_risk_focusPB

Business travel is increasingly becoming riskier for employers and employees.

Despite the proliferation of technology enabling communications today, face time — not Facebook — remains one of the most important tools for attracting and retaining both customers and employees.

This post-recession realization — that sitting across a table and looking someone in the eye is what drives business — has resulted in a steady increase in business travel over the past few years. U.S. business travel is expected to grow 6 percent in 2014, according to the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA).

In the past year, “75 percent of travelers encountered a mishap while traveling to their business destinations,” according to the GBTA.

As the number of executives traveling increases, there will be a parallel increase in a company’s risk exposure to on-the-road mishaps.

In the past year, “75 percent of travelers encountered a mishap while traveling to their business destinations,” according to the GBTA. About 40 percent require external assistance while traveling abroad. Yet, in a recent survey, 46 percent of business travelers said that their company does not provide travel insurance or assistance, such as medical or evacuation services.

Escalating Concerns

Recent developments around the world underscore how political unrest can suddenly and unexpectedly escalate.

In both Ukraine and Thailand, manageable risk quickly gave way to civil unrest and conflict. Similarly, in December 2013, more than 700 people were evacuated from South Sudan due to a significant conflict escalation, while in May 2014 at least 400 people were evacuated from Kenya due to concerns over the security situation in Mombasa.

These events demonstrate that whether traveling in traditional “hot spots,” or in historically stable regions, business travelers may suddenly be in need of evacuation, before chaos hits the ports or airports.

Travelers in high risk areas may become stranded until the country’s airports or border crossings are re-opened, or until transport to a safe location can be arranged.

This can be dangerous to employees as well as expensive for companies in terms of paying for additional accommodation, living expenses and rearranged transportation, stretching into thousands of dollars.

Global crisis management companies — either by direct contract or via a travel accident insurance policy— can give employees 24/7 access to crisis support specialists who can quickly mobilize and assist clients in high-risk situations

This type of service is becoming a necessity for companies conducting business outside the United States.

International Medical Systems

Political unrest is not the sole concern for employees traveling abroad. Medical crises are also an important consideration.

Obtaining medical care outside of the country can be tricky because many overseas hospitals require a “guarantee of funds” before administering treatment.
An employee may be asked to bring a personal credit card to pay for care, but may not have an adequate available balance.

Other issues may arise when an employee is in a remote location that is far from a hospital, or if he or she does not know the language or is unfamiliar with how health care is delivered in that country.

Crisis management service providers can bring in a doctor to care for an employee or arrange an ambulance to a local medical facility. If necessary, a service provider can also arrange to have an employee evacuated to a different facility.

Such services are provided 24/7 to employees traveling on business. Call center personnel gather details about the incident and provide employees with the resources such as the names of vetted doctors and area hospitals.

If an employee is too injured to travel, call center personnel will work with local medical service providers to get help to the employee.

For employees who are incapacitated and taken directly to emergency care, call center on-staff doctors will contact the local physician treating the employee to determine whether the care being administered is of the appropriate level and quality.

As business travel continues to grow, and as the rise in political unrest around the globe continues, there are more and more chances that an employee will need emergency assistance during the course of a business trip.

If the call center doctor determines that the care is not adequate, he or she will work to move the employee to an approved facility or have an approved local physician treat the employee.

Historically, businesses in Europe have been the largest purchasers of travel accident insurance in order to meet “duty of care” legislation, which levies significant penalties for companies that do not take adequate steps to protect employees who are traveling for business.

This type of legislation is gaining interest in the United States, potentially exposing companies to a new set of risks.

As business travel continues to grow, and as the rise in political unrest around the globe continues, there are more and more chances that an employee will need emergency assistance during the course of a business trip.

Leave a reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>