While your company credit card may offer some business travel insurance benefits, a standalone insurance policy is often your company's first line of defense when it comes to peace of mind related to life, limb and luggage.
Although companies sometimes rely on individual leisure travel policies or credit cards for coverage, business travel insurance policies are specifically designed to help protect both your business and your employees. “They frequently offer wider cover with fewer limitations, such as age limits or the exclusion of pre-existing medical conditions," says Scott Solombrino, executive director of the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA).
Before shopping for travel insurance, check with your credit card and health insurance providers to determine what they cover. For example, when you use your credit card for travel-related purchases, it may include coverage for trip cancellation, baggage loss, theft, car accidents and sometimes even life insurance. Business owners, chief financial officers and travelers themselves should be familiar with their existing coverage before shopping for additional coverage, such as business travel accident insurance or medical protection.
What Can Business Travel Insurance Cover?
Business travel insurance is available in a wide variety of options that often include bundled or a la carte coverage. Five primary categories of coverage include medical, trip cancellation, evacuation, baggage or other personal loss, and life.
Travelers business insurance should be a part of a company's overall risk mitigation strategy. In fact, the GBTA suggests that you consider group travel coverage to hedge against potential financial loss that could result from travel-related problems. Business travel accident insurance also can help reduce a company's risk exposure in the event an employee is injured in a travel-related incident.
“While on the road, business travelers will encounter different types of risk," says Solombrino “It is part of the travel manager's role to create the circumstances in which their travelers can be as safe as possible."
What Are the Policy Types for Business Travel Insurance?
Business owners interested in exploring options for business travel insurance coverage can get started by talking with an insurance broker or by going online. A number of websites enable business travelers to compare benefits and premiums from different insurance carriers.
Business travel insurance policies are specifically designed to help companies provide appropriate and effective support and protection to employees.
—Scott Solombrino, executive director, Global Business Travel Association
The total cost of your trip, its duration and the destination are three key factors that will influence the cost of coverage. Groups of 10 people or more traveling on the same trip itinerary, such as a delegation heading to a trade show, should consider group insurance.
Three key steps every business should take when considering business travel coverage, recommends the GBTA, are to investigate, evaluate and initiate.
- Investigate: This includes having someone dedicated to managing insurance within your company. It's also important to have a clear understanding of what insurance coverage you already have in place for employees, and to analyze any data you have about past claims.
- Evaluate: Companies need to identify what risks leave the business or its employees vulnerable. Then it's a matter of doing a cost-benefit analysis to help determine what type of insurance coverage is the best fit.
- Initiate: Insurance is one of those things that can be easy to set and forget. You should review your overage on a regular basis to ensure that both the coverage and the costs align with your company's needs.
When Should a Small Business Include Business Travel Insurance Coverage?
Every company should develop its own travel insurance policies based on its needs. "Businesses should evaluate whether or not travel insurance is beneficial to them by looking at the reasons travelers would use travel insurance," says Solombrino. “If those issues come up for them frequently, it will likely be beneficial to them."
Business travel insurance reduces risk exposure for companies and offers protection to employees. But the good news is that most companies will rarely have to use it. According to GBTA research, only about 6 percent of business travelers use the travel insurance they have during any given year
When it is needed, travel insurance comes into play most often for medical emergencies and travel delays. In fact, according to the GBTA, half of all claims are for medical reasons. But other reasons include coverage for everything from lost equipment—such as laptops or phones—to evacuation due to natural disasters or security concerns.
“Insurance is a means of protection from financial loss," notes Solombrino. “It is a form of risk management primarily used to hedge against risk of a contingent, uncertain loss."
Small businesses should consider insurance for both domestic and international travel. Moreover, companies with personnel traveling overseas may want to take additional steps to ensure that employees have adequate business travel insurance. The U.S. State Department, which offers some online advice regarding insurance, says that three key priorities for international coverage include medical evacuation insurance, travel health policies and trip cancellation insurance.
Some common benefits to look for when considering international travel coverage include:
- Emergency medical care overseas
- Medical transportation back to the United States
- Travel/accommodation costs in the event of delays
- 24-hour customer service
- Coverage for pre-existing conditions
“Business travel insurance policies are specifically designed to help companies provide appropriate and effective support and protection to employees," adds Solombrino.
When it comes to business travel insurance, it's wise to take precautionary measures and remember this tried-and-true axiom: Better safe than sorry.
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