The spread of the COVID-19 pandemic across the globe at the start of 2020 brought business travel to a halt. As countries shut their borders and implemented lockdowns, travel plans were cancelled and many workers advised to remain in their homes. Now, more than a year after the start of the pandemic, many countries are slowly starting to open up but it is clear that business travel will not suddenly spring back to its old patterns and there are new risks to consider. The evolving risks are changing the shape of travel and businesses must adapt to a new normal. As the workforce decentralises with more flexible, mobile working opportunities, how can your business maintain a duty of care and protect its most valued asset?
Balancing risk and reward
Business travel plays an important role in everyday working life. From visiting colleagues and clients to managing projects internationally, global mobility drives the wheels of growth worldwide. Yet the risk landscape is constantly changing, from global pandemics and natural disasters through to cyber risk and petty crime, businesses need to constantly monitor the landscape to maintain a duty of care.
Employees – understandably – will have worries about travel in the COVID-19 era. Even in normal times, travel can be a stressful experience, but the added uncertainty of the present situation can faze even the most frequent business traveller.
Companies should be aware of this and look to take the burden of worry away where possible. Fredrik Müntzig, Corporate A&H Underwriting Manager for Northern Europe, points out that with governments around the world frequently changing their COVID-19 policies and restrictions, employees may worry about how travelling abroad could also affect their personal lives. “Businesses and their staff are keen to return to the normal ways of business travel and doing this as quickly and safely as possible. There is one key concern to take into consideration when starting to return to normal, what happens if your staff is abroad and new lockdown restrictions are enforced, will their insurance be able to assist?”
Protection for all types of employees
Recognising the variety of employees a company has is key to successfully choosing the best approach to managing risk. “There are various concerns allocated to differing occupations. An employee traveling to visit a regional office will have other questions regarding travel than a windmill engineer; an construction worker will have a different experience of business travel to an office-based expat. A well-managed insurance programme should quickly and efficiently respond to the needs of short-term business travellers to expats, specialist occupations and people working from home. It’s about being sure that they will not experience any surprises, and they can count on the policy programme and their company to give them that kind of information’’ says Fredrik Müntzig.
Navigating the new travel landscape
Many companies worldwide have adapted quickly, and successfully, to challenging circumstances, including moving business activities online. Yet there is still something to be said for in-person interaction; according to the Harvard Business Review, a face-to-face request is 34 times more successful than an email. And for many, meeting in the same room brings that extra layer needed to strike a deal. Travelling for business will return, but likely in a somewhat altered form: the GBTA says that 62% of respondents expected COVID to change how they conducted business once it was over.
Choosing the right business travel protection may seem daunting in light of current circumstances. Fredrik recommends the following steps when making the decision:
For more information about Chubb’s business travel insurance solutions and how our carefully designed programmes can help you and your employees, please contact Fredrik Müntzig Corporate A&H Underwriting Manager for Northern Europe.