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As Australia and other countries come out of lockdown as a result of COVID-19 and look to start reopening their borders, many companies are reviewing and contemplating when—and how—their employees will be able to start travelling again for business in a safe manner.

Business travel can present risk and uncertainty at the best of times, and employee health has always been a concern for both businesses and travellers —along with the potential dangers posed by civil and political unrest, natural disasters, and crime. Now, more than ever , health has become one of the primary concerns and it’s more important than ever for companies that have employees travelling to ensure their safety and wellbeing.

There are four key steps for companies to consider to protect employees when travelling. 

1. Review Company Business Travel Rules

Market research by KPMG[1] and Flight Centre[2] show that businesses are being more strategic with flexible working arrangements and looking to find safe business travel solutions to support their staff when travelling for business.

With the new risks faced when travelling for business many companies are reviewing their internal policies and best practices whilst supporting their employees to understand such policies and practices before they make any trips on the company’s behalf.

Some considerations to review before you depart on a business trip are:

  • Destination-specific employee education and information (including local healthcare and mental healthcare providers, travel insurance contacts, and other applicable resources).
  • Acceptable travel partners and providers vetted for safety.
  • Communication of, and approvals required for, any desired departure from plans.
  • Emergency protocols (communications, on the ground contacts and other resources).
  • COVID-19 related considerations, such as:
  • Precautionary health screening and/or vetting requirements for employees and their families; and
  • Hygiene and safety best practices (for social distancing, PPE, etc.), that follow the recommendations of official organisations like The Australian Government Department of Health or the World Health Organisation (WHO)

2. Closely Monitor Destination Travel Advisories and Travel Partners

From local pandemic spread indicators and variations in mandatory quarantine practices to fluctuating international government regulations, today’s business travel parameters are complex and quickly changing. They require close monitoring and a nimble response.

While planning a trip, obtain the latest location-specific pandemic travel advisory guidance and visit the Australian Smart Traveller website not only for information about COVID-19 outbreaks but also for other issues (such as terrorism) that may be affecting the destination country.

Chubb provides its business travel policyholders with complimentary access to the following portals:

  • Chubb Travel Smart: This technology has been developed to help employers better fulfil their duty of care obligations to their staff. It includes a smartphone app for employees and an online dashboard for risk and HR managers to get an instant summary of travelling employees, including their location and whether they are travelling in high risk areas, to find out more click here.
  • Chubb Claim Centre: Along with Chubb’s market leading and award-winning claims service, BTA policyholders also have access to Chubb’s claims service portal. The portal allows real time lodgement, tracking and rapid processing of simple claims.  You can begin processing your claim online, receive immediate confirmation of submission and reduce steps and time to completion. To find out more click here.

Before booking transportation or lodging, make sure their respective cleaning protocols are optimal and that the vehicles or buildings have experienced no recent outbreaks of COVID-19.

suitcase with passport and medical mask


3. Prepare Employees to be Flexible and Patient
A spike in destination cases, an aeroplane suddenly grounded for emergency cleaning — even a brief exposure to a COVID-19 positive patient — can lead to a trip being cancelled or having to quarantine in a foreign country or Australian State. These situations not only affect travelling employees, they also require that travel resources be available 24/7. 

Prepare employees for more than the usual delays, inconvenience and frustration. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and Smart Traveller both provide useful advice and tips if your staff’s business trip is affected while they are travelling.

Travel assistance services and apps, such as Chubb Travel Smart, can also be a useful resource for employees travelling interstate and abroad for business, providing destination-specific advice and security alerts.


4. Make Sure Your Business Travel Insurance Covers the Current Landscape

Given the evolving exposures to employee health and safety caused by the pandemic, your current business travel policy may contain gaps in optimal coverage. You should also consider guarding against the pandemic’s effect on “typical” risks — for example, pandemic-induced financial hardship may increase the incidence of petty theft or stolen luggage.

Chubb understands that businesses need to take more time to plan and strategise business travel in the current environment, that is why Chubb:

  • Continues to review coverages and new benefits in relation to COVID-19 and pandemics locally and internationally for our travel policies. This is to ensure that the coverage offered remains relevant and provides the support policyholders need in the new and evolving  travel environment; and
  • Has recently updated its business travel declaration form to ensure we have a better understanding of the  insured’s business travel needs and risks, and ensure that the cover is tailored to suit changes to  business travel requirements during and posit COVID-19.

As the vaccine rollout continues across Australia and COVID-19 community transmission is managed,  it is time to get on the front foot so your business is ready for when business travel resumes. For further information on Chubb’s business travel position on COVID-19 please refer to our online notice.

To find out more and to inquire about a free quote please contact your local Chubb A&H underwriter.

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