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Reliable tips for business travellers in a volatile world

At a glance

  • Business travellers should consider advice and assistance for security and medical reasons before travelling
  • Companies have a moral obligation to make sure their staff are covered for every eventuality
  • Brokers should take into account their customers' travel needs and where they can get help in an emergency

The improving economy has put overseas travel back on the agenda, and the Global Business Travel Association says international outbound business travel will grow by 3.2% this year and 1.7% in 2015.

In addition to insurance cover for personal property, equipment, delays and cancellations, it is important that business travellers also have access to advice and assistance to ensure their personal safety.

“I think there is a moral obligation,” says Steve Coleman, Zurich’s Senior Market Underwriter, Accident and Health. “If companies are sending individuals on trips to far off places then you need to ensure they have the protection that they need, on both medical and security fronts. CEOs must be able to provide them with people that can assist them as required.”

Areas such as the Middle East, North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa may spring to mind as potential hotspots, but civil unrest and political upheaval in countries ranging from Brazil and Bulgaria to China and Turkey can cause problems for business travellers.

Things to consider before your customers travel abroad:

  • Make sure your customers have the basics: Cover for personal property, equipment, delays and cancellations
  • Have the latest information: Make sure travellers have access to the latest news to ensure their personal safety if going to areas of civil unrest
  • Appropriate medical cover: Employees may have medical conditions for which they need specific medical insurance
  • Be aware: Advise the policyholder to communicate all benefits to individual travellers

Immediate local help

Zurich works with crisis management assistance specialist red24 to offer hands-on expertise to policyholders.

If customers feel they are being followed, or get caught up in a threatening situation, red24 operates a 24/7 helpline to give them immediate advice on how to react and where they can get help on the ground, ranging from a local police station to their hotel security.

Where social unrest or terrorist activity erupts, red24 is on hand to provide an immediate point of contact.

Professional advice could range from putting the documents needed to travel in a grab bag and locking the door, to filling the sink and bath with water in case the supply is disrupted.

Where necessary, security consultants will fly in, meet policyholders with prearranged pass codes and then escort them out of the problem area.

This specialist evacuation cover was a lifeline to a number of business travellers who received this service in the midst of the Mumbai terrorist attacks in 2008, and is also available following political upheaval or natural disaster. Online services also give policyholders access to risk management advice and are able to track developing situations.

Instant medical advice

The appropriate medical cover is just as important when travelling overseas and generates more touch points with policyholders. Whether suffering from a migraine or struck down by food poisoning, policyholders want access to instant advice and details of local doctors or treatment centres.

In more serious situations direct intervention is needed, as with the rugby player who suffered a neck injury and was brought back to the UK in an air ambulance; or the businessman who suffered an aneurism in Iraq, and was evacuated to Dubai and stabilised, before being returned home for specialist treatment in the UK.

Providing the necessary level of medical expertise as quickly as possible is essential to ensure the best possible outcome for policyholders and this philosophy sits at the heart of Zurich’s approach.

If companies are sending individuals on trips to far off places then you need to ensure they have the protection that they need.”
Steve Coleman, Zurich’s Senior Market Underwriter, Accident and Health

To provide these services, Zurich partners with CEGA, an international claims and assistance group with a pedigree that stretches back over 40 years. It employs its own flight and medical crews as part of its 400-strong multi-lingual workforce.

“We tell our assistance carrier that they should assist first and validate second,” says Coleman. “We will ask who you work for and what your policy number is, but if there is confusion or the person does not know then we look to assist first and sort things out afterwards.”

Communicating available support

Brokers should check what cover their customers currently hold, if political or medical issues have recently changed in the countries they visit, or if there are global concerns that might affect them.

If you are aware of changing circumstances in particular countries, it is worth checking if any of your customers regularly visit these countries, and contact them to make sure they have adequate cover and know where to gain support if needed.

It is important to help travellers make full use of this additional support. Brokers should stress the importance of communicating all of the policy benefits to individual travellers within a business, and ensure they have the details of the support numbers and websites readily available when travelling abroad.

By making sure your customers are prepared for the worst and get the best out of their cover, should the unexpected happen, they will not be alone.

Image © Getty

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