People face some unique challenges when they travel abroad. Terrorism, natural disasters, medical emergencies, culture shock…these risks are real. And how you protect — or fail to protect — your travelers can have far-reaching consequences. Luckily, there are some proactive measures you can take to help protect your people and your organization from travel risks.
1) Do Destination Research: Compiling information about your travelers’ destinations is one of the best ways to help protect their health and safety while they’re away. A travel risk management provider like On Call can easily provide you with this information, or you can do your own research. The details can be both general and customized to traveler needs (such as air quality information for those with respiratory conditions) and should include specific, practical tips for handling a wide range of situations. This includes all relevant health and safety information, from political unrest, military and terrorist activities, to infectious diseases, vaccination advice, natural disasters, weather conditions, driving rules, cultural etiquette and even air quality.
2) Educate Your Travelers: In addition to destination-specific information, all travelers should be made aware of the resources available to them in the event of a travel emergency. Such information should also be part of the orientation procedure for anyone who travels and lives abroad. This can be a significant undertaking, so many organizations choose to partner with firms like On Call to handle this for them — comprehensive education can take the form of destination guides, on-site training, webinars, monthly awareness newsletters and more.
3) Have a Response Plan: If a traveler faces an emergency abroad, a delay in response or communication missteps can quickly spiral into disaster. Crisis preparedness helps your key stakeholders understand their roles – and how to react – during a crisis. For example, we conduct crisis response exercises with our clients to develop and test the strength of customized operational protocols. This process allows them to understand and test operational procedures before an emergency strikes.
4) Understand Risk Exposure: It’s important to understand how travel risk exposure can affect your organization on a strategic level. While financial risks such as medical expenses for overseas treatment, medical evacuation and repatriation may come to mind, there are also other legal, personnel, and reputation risks to consider. Did you know… ?
Several countries have developed Duty of Care legislation and your organization could face substantial legal penalties for neglecting adequate protection for your travelers.
Workforce engagement and performance could decline if your constituents perceive you as unwilling to care for them in difficult situations.
External audiences could negatively perceive organizations who fail to provide acceptable support for their travelers — with today’s intensity of media coverage, these incidents could result in long-term reputation damage – which is very hard to repair once broken!
5) Know How to React: Now that you’re prepared, how will you react in the event of an emergency? Even minor travel problems can become more serious when a traveler is not familiar with their surroundings. Check with your organization’s health insurance plan to confirm the details and purchase supplemental coverage accordingly. You may find that your health insurance policy may not be comprehensive enough to mitigate all of the risks associated with travel.
If your benefits package includes travel insurance, note that many plans will not allow its members to choose medical evacuation to their home hospitals or may not provide enough financial coverage if they become seriously sick or injured. It would only take one international medical evacuation (which can cost more than $100,000 from destinations like Dubai, UAE to New York, or China to Texas) to make a serious impact not just on the traveler but on their organization.
And that’s where travel risk management comes in. From worldwide medical referrals, nurse helpline, medical evacuation to hospital of choice and even the option to have a doctor on site at a specific meeting location, giving travelers immediate access to emergency resources through your organization’s travel risk management program is not just convenient — but can also be life-saving. Other travel emergency resources includes legal support (especially since laws in other countries are often quite different from those here in the U.S.) as well as help during political and natural disasters. Even seemingly smaller travel problems like a lost passport or missing luggage can cause a lot of stress and disruption in a foreign country. Having a customized and comprehensive travel risk management program can help organizations solve their problems much quicker — and manage the situations with less stress! And at the end of the day, who doesn’t want that?
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