How to Protect Employees During International Travel

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With the rise of technology that allows for instant international communication, companies both large and small have the opportunity to strengthen their business by creating a presence in the global marketplace. While some can simply offer online services from afar, other business partnerships and international expansions involve securing distributors or facilities overseas with face-to-face meetings. These global business opportunities often require employees to work and travel abroad. In 2015, employees traveled for business an average of four times for 17 days at a time, but what risks are they facing to do their job?

International business travel inherently has certain risks not typically found during domestic travel. In 2017, these risks have included natural disasters, disease outbreaks, political unrest and terror attacks in top business destination locations, such as Paris, Puerto Rico, Houston, Barcelona and Las Vegas. Traveling while on the job requires companies to have an increased level of security to ensure employees remain safe during their trip. Here are the top five ways employers can keep international business travelers safe while abroad:

Research travel warnings

Consider first and foremost where your employees are traveling. Are there unusual risks which need to be addressed in those locations? For example, some parts of the world see a higher incidence of kidnappings or other crisis events such as violent crime or civil commotions. If your employees are traveling to an area with high exposure to these types of situations, consider obtaining a kidnap and ransom plan to cover them or a crisis management travel insurance plan. Both of these options will mostly likely include a 24/7 helpline to provide guidance and assistance to employers and employees in many types of difficult and scary situations.

Analyze health insurance plans

Shockingly, one in five companies report having an employee hospitalized while traveling abroad. It’s important to determine if the employee’s domestic health insurance plan will follow them abroad as health insurance plans typically don’t cover them when traveling internationally or only cover emergency situations up to a specific limit. Companies must verify the current plan’s definition of an emergency and determine if it will provide proper protection for its employee. In addition, it’s common for foreign providers to require payment upfront before providing treatment, making it a best practice for employers to buy a travel insurance plans for their employees with options for medical coverage for up to $1,000,000 and higher.

Prepare for the worst

Another important medical emergency that should be considered is medical evacuation. This is especially crucial if your employee is traveling to an area without appropriate medical care. A location may have adequate care for a broken leg, but not for a heart attack. As a safeguard, employers should choose a travel insurance plan with an emergency medical evacuation benefit.

Provide resources

Will your employee know what to do if they lose their passport? If they are sick and need to go to the doctor, how can they find a reputable one? Travel assistance services are essential and can handle these types of questions should they arise. Employees need a lifeline when they travel abroad, especially if they are in an unfamiliar area and do not speak the language. If a company is not staffed to help traveling employees with the multitude of issues that could arise, they should invest in 24/7 multilingual travel assistance services. They are often included with a travel insurance plan, but can also be purchased separately.

Use common sense and expert travel advice

Finally, one of the most important components of ensuring safe travel for employees is to educate them. Basic information such as not wearing expensive jewelry while traveling, traveling with a copy of your passport in a separate place from the original and adhering to an itinerary will all go a long way toward keeping employees safe when they travel.

Overall, safety-minded broad travel insurance plans are focused on relevant benefits for international travelers that can be extremely helpful in unforeseen medical emergencies, political unrest and terrorist attacks. While these dire situations may not occur frequently, corporations should still do all they can to ensure employees are safe while on the job.

Justin Tysdal is chief executive officer of Seven Corners.

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