As multinationals further their reach and small companies are increasingly global, the workforce has become more internationally mobile. While an expanded marketplace clearly has its benefits, doing business in a multitude of countries can present challenges as unique and as numerous as the cultures of the world.
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 traveling on behalf of the company.
Business Travelers at Risk
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 traveling 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.
Some employers feel 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 help prepare your employees:
Evolving Global Travel Risks
- Petty theft, travel scams — and potential cybercrime — Business travelers 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 traveler 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 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 traveling 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 travelers. 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 intelligence, market practices and regulations, real-time health and security 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 travelers 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, security issues, 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 travel insurance protection all over the world.
- A company that can quickly identify and mitigate area-specific risks.
- An insurer that can customize a travel insurance policy for your specific protection needs and that offers Out of Country Medical benefits and other inconvenience benefits like trip interruption, trip delay, and lost baggage.
- A true partner with the expertise and resources to help 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; an online travel assistance portal to provide up-to-the-minute information, communication, local and location alerts; and 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.