Travel Assistance and Your Company: 7 Common Myths (and Truths!) Behind Them

Is travel assistance part of your employee benefit package? If it’s not, perhaps you’re not quite sure exactly what it is or how it works…or maybe you don’t think your company needs it. But the truth is, business travel doesn’t always go according to plan, and when it doesn’t, you and your employees need help fast. And that’s where travel assistance comes in! How? Keep reading and we’ll uncover the truth about travel assistance — and why your employees should never travel without it!

Travel assistance

Myth: We already have health insurance plans with emergency travel benefits. We don’t need travel assistance too.
Truth: It’s important to always check with your company’s health insurance policy to confirm exactly what’s covered and what isn’t—you may be surprised! Your employee health insurance plan may not be comprehensive enough to mitigate all the risks associated with business travel. For example, most assistance benefits embedded in health plans don’t include security coverage for employees traveling to high-risk areas. As the program administrator, you could also be missing a key part of the puzzle—the ability to get information about your travelers when you need it.

Since many health insurance plans require members to use their customer service lines, you won’t have direct insights into how your employee is being assisted during a crisis–meaning if you’re not in the loop, you could be missing vital opportunities to advocate on behalf of your employees. With an On Call travel assistance program to supplement your company’s health insurance program, you have oversight over your employees’ emergency situations, including direct access to our medical staff, approving costs outside of benefit limits, and even receiving regular updates from us so you can be involved in the solution.

Myth: You pay for duplicate or unnecessary services when you have a travel assistance program, especially if you already have some of these benefits in your employee health plans.
Truth: This may be true of some other travel assistance companies, but not On Call! We are willing to develop fully-customized programs, giving you the ability to choose exactly which emergency services to offer your employees. This means if you have travel emergency services already attached to your current health and/or insurance plans, we’re not going to make you pay for duplicate services or get coverage you don’t need. Instead, your program can be built to fill in the “gaps” for services you don’t currently receive through existing programs. Too often, we see organizations with “cookie-cutter” programs because their assistance providers refuse to tailor programs to meet their company’s unique needs. We understand that when it comes to the health and safety of your employees, one size doesn’t always fit all.

Myth: Most of my employees are young and healthy, so a travel assistance program wouldn’t benefit our company.
Truth: Even healthy people can get sick or injured while traveling—an employee’s current health status is only a small piece of the “what could go wrong” puzzle. Travel assistance doesn’t just come in handy during medical emergencies, but can also help if an employee encounters political unrest, a natural disaster or even an unexpected legal crisis. And of course we can’t forget about those everyday travel concerns (think a missed flight, lost wallet…) which not only place a huge burden of stress and frustration on your employees, but could also have a serious impact on their productivity.

Myth:  Our employees only travel within the US, so travel assistance isn’t necessary.
Truth: Even if your staff travels close to home, it’s still important to think about what they would do — and the resources that are available to them — in the event of a travel emergency. Even minor travel problems can become more serious when an employee is not familiar with their surroundings. Luckily, with On Call, your employees are covered for domestic travel as well as overseas trips!

Myth: We could handle an emergency incident ourselves—we have plenty of financial resources we could tap into if need be.
Truth: You may be financially capable of dealing with a travel emergency, but there are other risks to consider when it comes to employee protection. First of all, several countries have developed Duty of Care legislation and your company could face substantial legal penalties for neglecting to provide adequate protection for your travelers. You also face the risk of casting a negative impression with your external audiences — this includes your customers, potential customers, business partners, and vendors. Widespread media coverage of a failure to protect or assist employees in a serious emergency could undermine your company’s reputation, and rebuilding that reputation can be a lengthy and expensive task.

Furthermore, even if you can afford it, how can you be sure you’re handling the situation in the safest and most effective way possible? It takes a special skill set and a team of highly-trained people who know how to handle international emergencies, quality of medical care, and around-the-clock availability to properly manage crisis situations. A travel assistance provider can tap into their vast and vetted network of medical and safety experts to ensure your employees make it home—and back to work—safe and sound.

Myth: We’ve never had an emergency with one of our travelers, so travel assistance seems like a wasted investment.
Truth: Even if you’ve never had an employee experience a travel emergency before, the truth is, travel emergencies can and do happen — often when we least expect it!  Regardless, we know you want to get the most out of your company’s investment, which is why On Call offers proactive assistance services, which include educational opportunities for not only your employees, but you, as well! For your employees, proactive assistance involves making them aware of all resources available in the event of emergency (we want our phone ringing at 2 a.m., not yours!), as well as providing them with key destination information to  help them avoid problems in the first place. Pre-travel preparation can include anything from details about military and terrorist activities, infectious diseases, vaccination advice, weather conditions and air quality, to driving rules and cultural etiquette.  For your company’s administrators, this includes crisis response exercises that allow them to understand and test operational procedures before an emergency strikes as well as enterprise-wide crisis preparedness plans. It can even include traveler awareness emails and webinars you can distribute to your employees to educate them on the types of situations that could arise during travel and how travel assistance services can help.

Myth: It’s too difficult and costly to change from our current travel assistance provider and implement a new program.
Truth: Maybe you’ve already enlisted a travel assistance provider to help you cope with employee travel risks, but perhaps you’re not 100% pleased with your current service. Whether it’s lack of account management (phone calls once a year just aren’t cutting it), a cookie cutter program that’s not in line with your needs, or even communication mix-ups or delays, perhaps it’s time to explore your options. If you already have a travel assistance program in place or just starting to search for a travel assistance partner, check out our 5 Questions You Should Ask Your Travel Assistance Provider.

Do you have a travel assistance question we didn’t answer? Feel free to email us or leave your questions in the comments below…we’d love to hear from you!

Safe Travels!          

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.