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Business Travelers Face Risks
 
Published Thursday, May 11, 2017
by JIM HUTTON and JEREMIAH WATERS

Americans logged 459 million trips for business purposes in 2015, and it’s likely this number will continue to increase over the next five years, according to the U.S. Travel Association. This underscores the need for companies to remain vigilant when it comes to the potential risks facing their employees who travel.

Employees are exposed to risks that not only threaten their safety when traveling for business but can also result in challenges that, if not proactively addressed, could have a negative impact on a company’s reputation and bottom line. As business owners set their goals and priorities for 2017 and beyond, those with traveling employees should consider implementing a travel risk management (TRM) program as well as a business travel accident insurance policy.

A TRM program integrates medical and security resources with proactive health and safety initiatives to reduce risk exposure facing companies and their employees. Through crisis preparedness, education and emergency response, TRM programs give organizations the support needed to better understand and address travel risks.

Typically, a tool found within a TRM program is a Business Travel Accident (BTA) insurance policy, which can provide benefits that respond to a traveler’s immediate needs while also protecting organizations against unexpected travel costs. Those benefits include coverage for accidental medical expenses, accidental death and travel inconveniences such as trip delays or cancellations.

BTA insurance originally began as a way for organizations to respond to accidents in which an employee was tragically killed or disabled while traveling on business. However, the product has evolved to include benefits that protect travelers in a variety of situations. BTA insurance can address issues as small as lost luggage to larger crises like natural disasters, war risks and pandemic outbreaks.

Most importantly, a BTA protects and benefits employees should they find themselves in a dire situation while on a business trip.  Secondarily, a BTA can help protect the business when an employee travels, since employers have a legal and moral obligation to ensure they meet their duty of care to employees. For example, an employer must provide assistance and safe evacuation, often through a TRM program that works hand in hand with a BTA policy, to an employee in a hazardous situation such as a life-threatening medical condition while traveling for work.  

What to Look For in a BTA
The most important thing when considering BTA insurance is for an organization to understand its risk exposure and how a BTA can reduce that risk. Many companies include accidental death, dismemberment, seat belt and airbag protection, medical evacuation as well as out of country medical benefits in their BTA plan. For example, in many plans, seat belt and airbag protection pays a benefit if an insured person is killed while in a car with a properly working seat belt and/or airbag. In order to really understand policy coverage areas, companies and their employees should be familiar with the entire benefit definition so they know what is covered and if exclusions exist.

Organizations with more specific exposures may want to include, for example, owned-aircraft coverage if they own or lease aircraft, or they may want to purchase war risk coverage if their employees travel to high risk locations. It is also important to understand state regulations as they relate to BTA insurance. This type of insurance is typically filed within each state’s department of insurance, which means benefit availability can vary widely since each state has different regulations in place. Often, the key to successfully building any BTA plan is for an organization to fully understand its unique travel risks and to work with a broker to ensure the selected plan meets its needs.

A comprehensive TRM program as well as a BTA policy can help small and medium-sized companies address business travel risks, but for larger organizations with employees traveling to many locations, implementing a more specialized TRM program that includes travel tracking software and pre-trip intelligence briefings may also be necessary. There is much at stake for companies with business travelers, which is why it is important to understand business travel risks and implement strategies to protect organizations from the unknown. Remember, one size plan doesn’t always fit all. After a thorough analysis of business needs, a travel risk management or insurance provider can create a customized solution that aligns with an organization’s unique travel risk exposure and duty of care initiatives.

Jim Hutton, left, is chief security officer at On Call International in Salem. Jeremiah Waters is a business travel accident insurance underwriter with On Call’s parent company, Tokio Marine HCC, in Texas, For more information, visit oncallinternational.com or tmhcc.com.


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