Protecting Your Business Travelers
Updated: Sep 1
U.S. businesses spend billions of dollars on employee travel every year, with much of that international. Unfortunately, injuries, accidents and even tragedies can happen while employees are traveling.
What can you do to ensure your business is protected from the risks and liabilities involved with employee travel?
Workers’ compensation often, but not always, covers injuries sustained by an employee who is traveling for work. You may want to consider additional coverage, including:
Business travel and personal accident coverage
Employee benefits relating to international travel
Kidnap and ransom coverage
Your risk managers should work closely with employee benefits managers when creating global insurance programs because work-related injuries are handled differently in different countries. Your team should have a planned response in the event an employee is injured in a terrorist attack, accident or natural disaster, or acquires a serious illness overseas.
Business travelers are exposed to a wide array of risks, especially while traveling abroad, including:
1. Illness, injury or other medical crisis. Accidents and illness can strike anywhere. You never want to leave a sick or injured business traveler on their own to navigate an unfamiliar medical system.
2. Natural disasters and extreme weather. Earthquakes, flooding, hurricanes, typhoons, volcanic eruptions and wildfires are increasing threats in many regions. Even areas that aren’t actively experiencing extreme weather may still be recovering from a prior event.
3. Auto, airline and other transportation accidents. Many travelers fear transportation-related accidents, and with good reason. Even minor accidents can involve injuries and complicate logistics.
4. Political unrest. Leadership changes can sometimes lead to political unrest and protests. In many areas, the political climate is growing more unstable. Employees may find themselves in a region where they don’t feel safe.
5. Terrorism and attacks. Places once considered low-threat are seeing increased rates of terrorist attacks, including the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe.
6. Disease. Zika, Ebola, malaria, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases that are rare in the U.S. occur with greater frequency in other countries. Additionally, the risk of widespread outbreaks – such as COVID; see more below – is an ongoing threat.
7. Crime. Traveling employees face threats related to hotel security and safety, vehicle safety and street crime. Employees traveling to particularly dangerous areas may need to be on alert to fend off abduction risks. Additionally, a run-in with the law for even a minor offense could land a traveler in a foreign jail with no immediate access to local legal assistance.
8. Misplaced documents and lost luggage. Lost passports or sensitive work-related documents can create both inconvenience and risk.
While you can’t protect employees from all of these risks, forethought and good planning can increase the odds of a safe, uneventful trip. It’s a good idea to provide your employees with a 24/7 toll-free number they can use in the event of a crisis while traveling, especially when they travel internationally.
What you need to know about business travel accident (BTA) insurance
Many U.S. companies and corporations minimize their potential liability by purchasing business travel accident insurance (BTA). BTA is available to cover employee injuries resulting from an accident that occurs anywhere in the world during a business trip.
There’s a misconception that the coverages for traveling employees are either workers’ compensation or BTA. But they actually work in tandem, with BTA filling some of the gaps not covered by workers’ comp.
For example, let’s say a salesperson is on a business trip and decides to meet up with a friend for dinner, during personal time. If the salesperson gets into a serious accident on the way, workers’ compensation may not cover it because the employee was not directly involved in a work-related activity.
BTA coverage, however, begins the moment the employee leaves their home or workplace and extends until they arrive home again. There are no gaps.
BTA policies vary widely and are often customized to the unique needs of the employer. They can provide various benefits, including:
Pre-travel educational resources, such as required vaccinations, visas and paperwork, customs and risks in different countries, health care available, etc.
24/7 travel assistance services
Evacuation for either medical or security reasons
Guaranteed admission into a local hospital
Permanent total disability
Accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D) coverage
Repatriation of remains (return of a covered person’s body to his or home or to a funeral or cremation facility)
Spouse and dependent children coverage, if they are traveling with an insured employee
Kidnap and ransom benefit
Special COVID-19 considerations
Though travel has been severely curtailed during the COVID crisis, some employers are starting to send employees back out on the road again. You will want to make sure your travel insurance provides adequate coverage.
The two most common types of coverage are cancellation and emergency medical. Though your employees may be covered for treatment if they develop COVID symptoms during travel, your policy most likely won’t provide coverage if the trip is canceled due to a disease outbreak. Now is an excellent time to carefully review COVID-related exclusions and coverage with your insurance professional.
Also, be aware that some airlines and countries have instituted vaccine requirements, and many locales have strict hygienic practices that must be followed.
The right insurance provides extensive coverage for employees on the go
Many employee travel risks can be mitigated through insurance. Your liability insurance provides coverage for employees’ injuries or illnesses whether they happen onsite or offsite, but in most cases, employers need additional coverage for employees who travel.
If your employees have to travel for work, purchasing a business travel insurance policy is a good idea. It provides coverage for canceled transportation, medical evacuation, repatriation and more.
Speak with an insurance professional for more information and recommendations on the best way to keep your particular business and employees protected as they travel both domestically and abroad. Call V.F. McNeil Insurance today at (203) 481-2684 or request an appointment online.