In an increasingly globalizedworld, business travel is essential for employees in differentcountries to meet face to face, establish trust and collaboratetoward shared goals. (Photo: Shutterstock)

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It's a frightening prospect: one of your top employees is on animportant business trip thousands of miles from home, and somethinggoes terribly wrong. He gets clipped by a bus on the streets ofMexico City, or she contracts a debilitating virus in New Delhijust hours before a scheduled presentation. Employees on the roadcan also be sidelined by less severe but more frequent problems,such as breaking a leg, getting the flu or diarrhea, getting intoan accident, or falling victim to theft.

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Every day, stories about the coronavirus fill the pages of newspapersaround the world, making it impossible to avoid thinking abouttravel risk. Corporate purchasers of a multinational businesstravel policy understand their duty of care to employees when theytravel for business. But how well do they understand exactly howthe insurance coverage they purchased will respond when somethinggoes wrong?

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Related: 4 tips for moving employees abroad

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Does your employee know where to turn to for assistance? Ifinjured, do they have immediate access to the information theyneed, such as the best doctor or hospital to care for him in anunfamiliar city? Do all your employees, no matter where they arebased, have access to the same level of care anywhere they travel?Or are there gaps that could lead to inconvenient, or even tragic,outcomes?

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Beyond protecting the health and safety of your employees, doesyour travel insurance program adequately protect the needs of yourbusiness? Is the coverage you have fully compliant in everyjurisdiction, or are their gaps that could face unwelcome scrutinyfrom insurance regulators and tax authorities around the world? Ifa traveling employee falls ill, will the company be covered for thecost of flying out another executive to complete the assignment? Doyou know the extent of coverage within your organization? Is therean assumption that you are covered yet no one is sure of thedetails? Are there gaps in your insurance policies that are leavingyour traveling employees open to increased risk?

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Beyond protecting the health and safety of your employees, doesyour travel insurance program adequately protect the needs of yourbusiness? Is the coverage you have fully compliant in everyjurisdiction, or are their gaps that could face unwelcome scrutinyfrom insurance regulators and tax authorities around the world? Ifa traveling employee falls ill, will the company be covered for thecost of flying out another executive to complete the assignment? Doyou know the extent of coverage within your organization? Is therean assumption that you are covered yet no one is sure of thedetails?

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These are the kinds of crucial questions purchasers of businesstravel insurance need to ask to mitigate risk. A recent survey byTravel Medicine, an information and product resource for travelers,found up to 65 percent of travelers to the developingworld self-report a health problem during their trip, and about8 percent of these travelers are sick enough to seekmedical care either while traveling abroad or shortly afterreturning home.

Don't just buy a policy, buy access to a network ofcapabilities.

Business travel policies typically include coverage for anemergency evacuation. But the ability to reach and assist anemployee in distress is only as good as the resources the insureris prepared to deploy. An employee of a major Australian utilitycompany was on a temporary business assignment in the Philippineswhen Taal Volcano suddenly erupted, spewing tens of thousands oftons of ash into the sky and onto the surrounding communities. Withwarnings of an even more massive eruption, the employee needed toimmediately evacuate from the Philippines. Fortunately, hiscompany's benefits administrator had the foresight to ensure he wascovered by a policy that would guarantee his swift evacuation fromsuch dangerous situations.

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A policy form that provides a benefit doesn't mean much withoutresources to back it up. Make sure your insurer has the resourcesto deliver on their promises when catastrophes occur. The healthand safety of your employees could depend upon it.

Make sure your employees have the tools they need to get thehelp they need when they need it.

In recent years, technology has changed the game for businesstravel insurance. When something goes wrong, your employee on theground could be scared or confused. They need to have tools attheir fingertips to turn for help. That includes capabilities likedigital apps and call centers with 24/7 support. They needinformation quickly in order to make the right decision, such aswhich hospital to be taken to if they are injured.

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Technology and claims capabilities are also important for themore frequent and mundane mishaps that can happen when traveling –lost luggage, a stolen wallet or a lost cell phone. Make sure youunderstand what is covered under your policy, and how easy andconvenient the claims process is.

Mind the gap: make sure all employees globally have consistentcoverage.

Consider the following scenario: three business colleagues fromdifferent countries and different subsidiaries of the same globalcompany attend an industry event in Mumbai, India. As they leavethe event together, the car they are traveling in is struck frombehind by another vehicle. Each employee is seriously injured andrequires urgent medical care.

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How are they treated? Depending on the existence and level ofbusiness travel insurance coverage, the colleagues may receive anentirely different quality of care, despite the fact that they allwork for the same global company. Under the varying degrees ofcoverage, an employee may be immediately evacuated by air to a tophospital in the region, while the other two may be sent to thenearest local hospital. Each employee might also receive differentinsurance compensation amounts for their hospital stays andinjuries.

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The variety of national regulations governing the purchase ofinsurance have made it harder than ever to design multinationalbusiness travel and personal accident coverage that can provideconsistent worldwide protection and limits while addressing eachcountry's tax and regulatory requirements. Be sure to work with aninsurer that understands this complexity and has the resources todesign an effective, consistent and fully compliant program. Oneissue to follow is the growing number of countries that prohibitthe sale of non-admitted insurance, which refers to an insurancecompany that does not have a license to operate in a particularjurisdiction.

Make sure you have the coverage you want for youremployees.

Not all business travel policies are created equal. You may, forexample, want to make sure your insurance will cover the cost offlying out the spouse of an employee who was hospitalized for aheart attack while on the job abroad. Will your policy cover thecost of business class seats for an employee returning home and adoctor or health care aid to accompany her? Understand the coverageoptions available and what is best for your employees and thebusiness.

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In an increasingly globalized world, business travel isessential for employees in different countries to meet face toface, establish trust and collaborate toward shared goals. Businesstravel is also requiring for meeting with partners, suppliers,customers and prospects. For employees, it can be exciting,rewarding and challenging. Creating an effective, consistent andthoughtfully constructed business travel insurance problem is animportant way to fulfill your duty of care and be there for youremployees when they most need it.

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John Thompson is division president,International Accident & Health at Chubb.

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