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Workplace Health & Safety

5 steps for planning a return to business travel

businessman in protective mask

As countries come out of COVID-19 lockdown and reopen their borders, many companies are 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, let alone a time when the world continues to battle the pandemic and potential dangers posed by a spectrum of issues from civil and political unrest around the globe, to natural disasters and petty crime. It’s more important than ever for companies to put steps in place to ensure employee safety and wellbeing when they travel.

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 your company’s business travel policy

    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 making any trips on the company’s behalf.

    Review and update company travel guidelines covering:

    • Destination-specific education and information (including local healthcare and mental healthcare providers and travel insurance contacts).
    • Reputable travel partners and providers.
    • Communication of, and approvals required for, any departure from plans.
    • Emergency protocols (communications, on the ground contacts and other resources).
    • COVID-19 related considerations, such as:

      • Precautionary health declarations for employees and those living in the same household
      • 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 such as 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 can be 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 local and 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, employees should ensure cleaning protocols are optimal and that the vehicles or buildings have not seen any 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 the traveller having to be quarantined in a foreign country. These situations not only affect travelling employees, but also require travel resources to be available to them 24/7. 

    Prepare employees for more than the usual delays, inconvenience and frustration by directing them to resources which they may find helpful. The Mayo Clinic, for example, 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 or Chubb Travel Smart, can also be a useful resource for employees travelling abroad for business, providing destination-specific advice and security alerts.

    Employers should have ‘worst-case’ safety protocols in place, especially for travel to high-risk locations, . 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 coverage and hence do not extend coverage for expenses and losses due to COVID-19. 
    • It is important to review your existing policy to ensure it provides, for example:

      • COVID-19 related coverage for medical expenses, hospitalization, post journey medical expenses, emergency medical evacuation and repatriation; and
      • sufficient medical insurance coverage as mandated by the local destination as part of its entry requirements.

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

    Learn about the business travel protection solution that Chubb offers. 

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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