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As countries come out of lockdown, ramp up the roll-out of their vaccine program, and start to reopen their borders in the wake of COVID-19, many companies are likely contemplating when—and how—their employees may be able to start travelling for business again.

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

 

Protect your employees and your company by evaluating the risks, proceeding with caution, and planning with care. Consider these five steps as business travel resumes.

 

1. Update Company Business Travel Rules

Given the new risks faced by travellers, it’s critical to examine all your internal policies and best practices—and make sure that employees understand them before they make any trips on the company’s behalf.

 

Review and update company travel guidelines covering:

  • 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
    • Vaccination status of the business traveller
    • Hygiene and safety best practices (e.g. social distancing, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), etc.), that follow the recommendations of official organisations like the World Health Organization (WHO).

 

2. Assess the Necessity of Business Trips to Your Bottom Line

After a moratorium on most business travel, companies are looking hard at which travel costs are necessary and which are not. This is especially true in those industries that face pandemic-driven financial shortfalls and/or in which meetings are easily conducted remotely.

 

Of course, some meetings and business transactions are better done in person. To judge what’s best for your company, consider these factors:

  • Will the trip directly result in desired sales or business goals?
  • Does a competitive situation warrant the trip?
  • Is the trip for an essential training purpose?
  • What are possible alternatives to an in-person trip?
  • What is the potential reward compared to the risk of an in-person trip versus the alternatives?

 

3. 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.

 

When planning any trip, obtain the latest, location-specific pandemic travel advisory guidance. The Immigration & Checkpoints Authority’s (ICA) and Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) websites have useful resources such as travel advisories or the latest updates on country-specific COVID-19 updates and border measures. 

 

Guard against the pandemic’s effect on “typical” risks — for example, pandemic-induced financial hardship may increase the incidence of petty theft or stolen luggage.

 

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

 

4. Prepare Employees to be Flexible and Patient

A spike in destination cases, an airplane 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. These situations not only affect travelling employees, but they also require that travel resources be available to them 24/7. 

 

Prepare employees for more than the usual delays, inconvenience and frustration. The Mayo Clinic offers some detailed advice on what and how to pack for optimum pandemic travel efficiency while adhering to regulations.

 

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

 

Especially in high-risk locations, have worst-case safety protocols in place. These include emergency communications and evacuation plans, etc.

 

5. 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. 

Some of the factors to consider when reviewing the adequacy of your current business travel insurance policy: 

  • Some policies may exclude pandemic such as COVID-19 and hence do not extend coverage for losses due to COVID-19. It is important to review your existing policy to ensure it provides COVID-19 related coverage for medical expenses, hospitalisation, post journey medical expenses, emergency medical evacuation and repatriation.
  • Sufficient medical insurance coverage as mandated by the local destination in order for entry.

A comprehensive business travel insurance plan can help address these gaps and more, according to your company’s particular needs. 

Learn about the business travel protection solution that Chubb offers. 

© 2021 Chubb. All rights reserved.

No part of this article may be reproduced in any written, electronic, recording, or printed form without written permission of Chubb.

Disclaimer - The content of the above article is not intended to constitute professional advice. Although all content is believed to be accurate, Chubb Insurance Singapore Limited (Chubb) makes no warranty or guarantee about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the content of this article. Users relying on any content do so at their own risk.

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