As business makes inroads into ever more remote and unstable areas, one important area of risk to consider is the safety of employees who are travelling on behalf of the company.
Business travellers at risk
By the year 2021, BusinessTravelNews.com forecasts that companies will be spending $1.7 trillion on business travel, and Finaccord market research predicts that 87.5 million workers will be expats.
Whether heading to a sales call or a week-long conference; whether assigned to a Third World city or an offshore drilling rig, today’s travelling employees face unprecedented and growing dangers. Threats can come not only from pickpockets but from pipe bombs, not only from a foreign “bug” but from a major hurricane that impedes access to transportation or clean water.
Employers have a “duty of care” obligation to keep employees safe and healthy at work — including protecting them from travel risks, and protecting the company from associated liabilities. Here are some facts about the evolving global travel risks and how to prepare your employees:
Evolving global travel risks
Many people think of travel risks as lost luggage, cancelled flights or property stolen out of a hire car. While those incidents are certainly upsetting and troublesome, they’re just some of the myriad hazards that business travellers face today.
- Petty theft, travel scams — and potential cybercrime — business travellers have long been targeted by local criminals. When in a strange land, using an unfamiliar language and currency (and likely jet-lagged and in a different time zone), and focusing on business, even the savviest traveller can fall victim.
Now, with the rapid growth in the incidence and sophistication of international cybercrime, what was once the inconvenience of a stolen item can now lead to disastrous vulnerability. The security of an employee’s personal information as well as the entire company’s network can suffer as a result of a company laptop or device in the wrong hands.
- Illness and accidents — People get sick and accidents happen. An employee might have a heart attack or get hurt in a car accident. More people are travelling to parts of the world where infectious diseases are a serious danger. The potentially devastating consequences from any medical incident can be compounded by inadequate local medical treatment facilities in some less developed locations.
- Terrorism and civil unrest — Political and social changes across the globe create real danger for business travellers. Even if not physically affected by a violent act, employees experience negative fallout and incur expenses related to the crisis. This threat is evolving and no longer limited to high risk countries.
- Natural disasters — Major adverse weather and natural events (earthquakes, wildfires) are occurring more frequently around the globe and often without enough warning to evacuate employees ahead of time.
How to guard against employee travel dangers
The ways to mitigate travel risks are: prepare; proactively inform; provide accessibility — and select your partner.
- Prepare employees with critical pre-travel information — The more that’s understood about a destination (like local area facts, market practices and regulations, late-breaking travel risks, and potential weather events), the greater the ability to properly plan and make informed decisions.
- Proactively stay in touch with employees and management — It’s essential for business travellers and those back in the office to stay in close contact with each other. Whether alerting the employee to simple itinerary changes or keeping risk managers and HR in the loop during a dire foreign catastrophe, a communication plan is critical.
- Provide emergency accessibility — When your employee is in trouble in a different culture and time zone, a quick and knowledgeable response is vital. Have resources in place to properly and immediately assess and address health crises or other potentially dangerous situations.
- Partner with an insurance company that is as global as your employees are — If you’re doing business internationally, your insurance partner should be:
- A global entity that can provide locally compliant, consistent protection all over the world.
- A company that can quickly identify and mitigate area-specific risks.
- An insurer that can customize a gap-free policy for your specific protection needs.
- A true partner with the expertise and resources to minimize your employee travel liabilities.
Chubb combines the ability to write policies in 232 countries with tools like: WorldviewSM and Multinational Research Tool to facilitate information gathering; the award-winning Chubb Travel Smart app to provide up-to-the-minute information, communication, local and location alerts; and Chubb 24/7 Emergency Assistance that offers a network of third party resources around the globe.
Wherever your employees travel for you, we’ll help ensure they have the proper protection in place — and that your company has what it needs to do business around the globe.