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Tackling business travel risk in Brazil for football-loving executives

At a glance

  • With the global football tournament set to kick off in Brazil, the risks to business travellers in Brazil include kidnap, illness and becoming caught up in civil unrest
  • All of the 12 host cities are high-risk destinations and Brazil has many dangers
  • Zurich provides its business travel customers with a comprehensive range of security, travel and medical assistance services

Foreign travel is becoming increasingly more important for the business world as the workplace turns global.

These changing trading patterns are seeing emerging markets, especially, taking on a more prominent role on the world stage. Zurich’s insightful SMEs & Risk in 2020 report predicts that business travel risks will only amplify over the next decade.

And with Brazil, one of the original ‘BRIC’ emerging economies, set to welcome an influx of foreign business executives as the South American nation plays host to the world’s greatest football tournament, these risks may become more apparent over the next month.

Risk scenario: Hang gliding over Rio

A corporate customer in the UK takes a few members of staff and key clients out to Brazil to experience the exhilaration of hang gliding over Rio de Janeiro, as a relationship-building exercise.

Hang gliding, notoriously popular among tourists in Rio, offers stunning views, but has been known to cause countless injuries and up to one death per 1,000 flights.

A member of the UK group visiting Brazil crashes on his hang glider and is knocked unconscious. The local ambulance takes him to the nearest state hospital.

At hospital, the doctor searches for contact details, finds Zurich’s emergency card and calls the CEGA helpline. They are immediately transferred to one of CEGA’s own in-house doctors, relating news the patient is critically injured. The man has lost blood and needs an urgent blood transfusion. The hospital may need payment guarantees before treatment starts.

CEGA has direct hospital billing arrangements in Rio, so treatment wouldn’t be delayed. CEGA’s in-house medics would be in constant touch with the Brazil doctors; checking for assurances all bloods have been screened, that surgery is medically appropriate and in the patient’s best interests, and relay evidence of any pre-existing medical condition.

CEGA can, if needed, organise transfer to a more sophisticated private medical centre nearby and, once declared fit, escort him from his bed in Brazil back to his local hospital in Britain.

Brazil, the world’s fifth biggest country by size and population as well as an economy predicted to be the fifth largest by 2023, is experiencing ever-growing income disparities between the social-economic classes that has seen growing unrest in the past year or so as protestors unite against social inequality, which is in stark contrast to the funding lavished on the upcoming football fiesta.

Zurich has partnered with security experts red24 and medical experts CEGA Group to provide its business travel customers with a comprehensive range of security, travel and medical assistance services.

Dangers and concerns

Red24 says that all 12 host cities – including Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo – are high-risk destinations and it expects incidents of petty theft, as well as the potential of violent crime spreading from the favelas. There are also concerns over short-term kidnapping, which could occur near ATMs or by bogus taxi drivers.

An executive on a trade mission to Brazil, aimed at capitalising on the football tournament, could also become caught up in the country’s on-going social unrest, contract a severe illness, have a passport stolen or even be involved in a road traffic accident – over 40,000 people a year die on Brazil’s roads.

“Brazil has many dangers, including road accidents, criminal gangs, political protests, kidnapping and theft,” says Juan Peña Núñez, CEGA’s Head of Corporate Specialty Risks.

“In addition, the country is now home to 14 cities that rank among the top 50 most violent places in the world. And a bite or scratch from an animal, however innocuous, could result in the individual contracting rabies, an extremely serious and life threatening infection. Malaria and yellow fever are also common and three of the host cities – Fortaleza, Natal and Salvador – present a high risk of dengue fever.”

He added: “If you have an accident in Brazil, you will be taken by local emergency services to a public hospital. With no reciprocal healthcare agreements between the UK and Brazil, there is a risk that hospitals could delay all but the most basic emergency treatment until payment guarantees are received.”

Responding quickly and effectively

How Zurich can help

Travellers who are insured with Zurich can access the services of red24 and CEGA using the telephone number on their rescue card, selecting the service they need from Zurich Travel Assistance. Also, Zurich’s website can be a source of information and daily travel updates.

Zurich, with the help of its partners, is able to respond to these far-flung emergencies quickly and effectively – whether it is in Belo Horizonte, Beijing or even Berlin – and can immediately help secure the best hospital care, aid in sourcing a replacement passport or merely providing access to cash, a suitable hotel or space on a plane home even when it looks like all flights are fully booked.

Help can also be provided prior to departure with the development of crisis management plans, as well as facilitating security escorts, check-in and alert services and hostile environment awareness courses.

To find out more about the risks for UK businesses around Brazil’s football fiesta, check out our eye-catching infographic.

Image © Getty

For more information, get in touch

Steve Coleman | Senior Market Underwriter - Accident & Health | 0207 648 3185

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