Important Considerations for Meeting Duty of Care in the ‘New Normal’

Prior to this year, pandemics and viruses weren’t top of mind for those overseeing international travel. However, in the wake of the events that have transpired as of late, we know all too well that proper planning and response for viral outbreaks is critical, and a key aspect of meeting duty of care in the new normal.  As you continue to evaluate your organization’s plans for restarting travel, it’s even more important to identify risks and gaps in your current programs and policies, so you can ensure appropriate protection for travelers moving forward.

The reasoning behind this is simple: protecting travelers in a world with an active pandemic requires a fresh approach to travel risk management (TRM) and a fundamental shift in focus to ensure all stakeholders are confident that the risks involved in traveling have been mitigated as much as possible. This requires an all-encompassing approach, including a thorough evaluation of existing policies and resources to ensure alignment between insurers, assistance services, and crisis management protocols.  Not sure where to start? Here are some important things you’ll want to consider when reviewing your insurance coverage and accompanying services:

Is there coverage for COVID-19-related medical expenses?
Consider options for covering medical expenses if a traveler becomes ill with COVID-19 and needs to be hospitalized overseas.

If your policy renews while the pandemic is active, will any new exclusions be introduced?
Work with your provider or broker to verify if insurers plan on changing the exclusions and limitations in your policy as a result of COVID-19 from one renewal period to the next.

Is there coverage for quarantine-related expenses (meals, lodging, re-booking travel, etc.)?
In most instances, this benefit is often provided for events that are unknown at the time of purchase; however, if the quarantine is the result of an unplanned circumstance, this could change what’s covered.

If someone is on a trip and a loved one at home contracts COVID-19 and is hospitalized or they pass away, are there benefits for the traveler to make an emergency return home? What about if the traveler is hospitalized with COVID-19 abroad? Are there benefits to get a family member to their bedside?
Understand the options available to your constituents to help them cover unplanned emergency expenses. During these unknown times, there is a higher risk for health incidents to occur and situations can be compounded by financial stresses that some families are experiencing due to the pandemic.

Do you understand how coverage is impacted by changing Government Travel Advisories?  How about in relation to when a trip is booked, a trip departs, or if levels change while the trip is in progress?
Often there are exclusions and restrictions related to destinations that have a warning issued to their citizens by Foreign Affairs, State Department, or other governing bodies to not travel, so best to verify these details before travelers depart.

Do you understand the host country’s insurance requirements?
Check whether there are insurance (and other health) requirements of the host country/ies for travelers (including host country protocols upon landing), and check with your provider to make sure those conditions are met.

If a location that was ‘doing ok’ has a new outbreak, are there benefits for an early return home? How about if I want to cancel my trip altogether?
As mentioned previously, some plans may exclude epidemics/pandemics and may not provide coverage for related issues. Be sure to check the details on your policy to plan accordingly (you can also refer to our friends at InsureMyTrip for more information on travel insurance policies that include trip cancellation benefits)

Want to learn more?
Whether its 24/7 emergency medical transportation, referrals for COVID-19 testing facilities, and even help with re-booking travel plans, here at On Call, our clients know they can continue to rely on us for assistance with navigating the pandemic—but did you know they can also count on us to provide expert guidance around aligning their insurance, assistance, and crisis management plans?

Contact us today to learn more about our risk-free, flexible programs and pricing that take into consideration these uncertain times so you’re not paying for services related to travel that may not happen.

For over 25 years, On Call International has provided fully-customized travel risk management and global assistance services protecting millions of travelers, their families, and their organizations. Contact us today and watch our video to learn more. You can also stay in touch with On Call’s in-house risk management, travel health and security experts by signing up for our quarterly Travel Risk Management (TRM) newsletter.