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Managing travel risk for a global workforce comes with its own set of unique challenges for both the organization and employees. For example, many employers take corporate travel for granted, often listing it as a perk of employment. While this can be true, in today’s world, travel can also be unpredictable. This makes it more important than ever for a company to protect its people, reputation, and bottom line. With the emergence of viruses such as Zika and previous scares such as Ebola, the value of organizations having a health risk management and employee benefit travel program in place cannot be emphasized enough. Is your organization taking the necessary steps to help minimize the negative impact to your travelers or business from unforeseen health and safety risks while traveling?

Considerations prior to employee travel

“When you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail” is a maxim that is especially true when it comes to travel. Without making travelers aware of the risks inherent in the destination they are traveling to and what the company has done to help manage them, companies are preparing them to fail at their assignment or possibly worse.

At a minimum, basic pre-travel requirements such as the required vaccinations and immunizations are recommended. However, employees should also be given pre-travel briefings that detail the conditions in their destination and include information on the health care system in the country, weather, pollution, disease, and water quality.

Considerations while employees are on location

Beyond preparing employees beforehand, employers should also have measures in place in case they fall sick or are seriously injured during travel. Are they sufficiently covered by an out-of-country medical policy? Does this include a travel accident with medical and security evacuation insurance policy that addresses the gaps in worldwide coverage? In the event of a worst-case situation, is the company prepared to compensate an employee’s beneficiaries for the loss of their loved one while traveling on behalf of the company?

All employers should consider offering a travel insurance policy that includes access to a 24/7 medical hotline and a list of qualified emergency medical facilities. The policy may also include a host of travel assistance services such as emergency evacuation, security assistance, medical referrals, medical monitoring, lost medication replacement, translation, and online access to trip briefs, alerts and other useful travel information.

In the event an employee becomes ill, is there a defined protocol to follow? If so, employees should be informed about it before they travel. Whatever the case, it’s important for employees to know that their employers “have their back” while on travel. By providing comprehensive travel benefit program and a clearly written travel health policy, employers can satisfy their duty of care to their global workforce and optimize their business success.

— Joseph Weiss is Head of Corporate Accident & Sickness Underwriting for Chubb Accident & Health.

This article originally appears as "Guarding Employees’ Health and Safety in a Globalized World" on the Risk Conversation blog on March 21, 2017.

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