Employees of multinational firms are no strangers to the needs and demands of business travel, whether it be sales teams, IT teams, or senior managers. While most business travellers are generally pretty savvy, it is hard to prepare for every scenario. In the event of an incident when travelling, employees want to be sure that they are properly cared for and employers are expected to provide proper support. Business Travel with medical insurance and assistance cover is foremost about caring for the individual, and then working to ensure any inconvenience to the employee, and the business, is minimised. Having that support at hand is the key to keeping employees safe and on the move.
Business Travel insurance covers emergency medical costs while an employee is travelling, including lump sum payments for accidents regardless of liability. It can also include helpful reimbursement coverage for travellers, such as lost baggage, important travel and ID documents, and stolen travel money. Additional cover and services are often added to create a rich level of insurance and assistance support, depending on the company and traveller needs.
Two important examples of costs that are covered by most Business Travel policies are unlimited medical expenses for hospital and emergency care, as well as medical repatriation or assisted travel once the patient is cleared and fit for a journey home. The real benefit of Business Travel policies, however, is the cover is all supported by a globally capable assistance company, which coordinates this care and ensures, where possible, cashless payments to the hospital or medical centre.
Duty of care
A policy provides a duty of care in respect of emergency medical and travel cover. Through additional services such as webinars or apps, the insurer can also provide extra help to enable companies to support the duty of care to their employees through a package of information including training, travel knowledge, country alerts, security videos and information, and an emergency contact number.
Multinational insurance programmes provide many benefits for global risk managers. A multinational programme for Business Travel principally provides a controlled or consistent level of cover and support for their employees globally, enabling them to establish a standard for their company duty of care to employees. It also often lets companies gain economies of scale by managing the programme on a worldwide basis, versus each country obtaining their own individual contract and limits.
It may be that they want to give these policies to all employees, or just to certain ones that travel for business, such as sales teams and management. A set standard can be established so that the multinational knows that its employees will all receive the same level and quality of cover and assistance globally, regardless of the originating employee’s home insurance market coverage standards. With a multinational programme, it will allow all employees to be serviced by the same assistance company globally. If local policies are chosen in different countries to sit with the master contract on a difference of conditions, difference of limits basis, these employees and company branches then benefit from local claims handling, direct tax allocation for payment of premium and any paid benefits.
Some claims under business travel accident insurance policies, such as lump sum payments for an accident, or for lost luggage, need to be paid to the individual in their home territory. So a multinational programme needs to allow those claims to be paid locally, taking into account local taxes and regulations. At the same time, medical treatment costs, for example, may have to be paid to the medical centre in the country that the employee received treatment in. Under a multinational programme, through the global assistance company, that claim can be paid directly to that medical centre.
Commitment from the employer
A business travel accident multinational programme requires a commitment from the company in terms of providing up-to-date and accurate information to get the programme in place and to keep it running on an annual basis. However, if more information can be provided, the coverage can become more detailed, and more tailored, and likely at a better price. It is a project that needs to be managed, but a multinational programme can provide one standard, a controlled master programme from the centre, which can provide much better value for money, with a better standard of coverage, than buying a series of local policies.
The conversation around duty of care in terms of business travel is deepening, and it is about supporting employees. There is much more employee awareness, and employees are taking a greater interest in the benefits that employers are providing in terms of business travel accident policies. While those business travel accident insurance policies provide coverage, it is the assistance element that brings it to life. It is the help on the ground that is provided that enables employees to stay safe and be supported in the event of an incident, however small. If something happens, the ability to be able to get the right care in each country or arrange supported travel in a medical emergency, ensures the employee returns home quickly, and hopefully back to work in a timely fashion. It is the time and effort spent arranging the right business travel and assistance package that ensures a workforce that is happy to travel when necessary.
Contributed by Kelly Coombes, EMEA regional head of group PA and travel at AIG Europe
This article first appeared on Commercial Risk on 8 January 2018.