Written exclusively for Expat Network by Carl Carter, Managing Director of Voyager Insurance Services
And, while the cost of long haul air travel to get there has become more affordable for businesses, contractors and expats – many businesses and individuals alike are unfortunately experiencing the significantly increased risks and hazards to health, wealth and personal safety that so often come along as part of the pioneering and frontline opportunities!
Unfortunately, when planning a business trip, even more so than when planning a holiday – it is all too easy to forget to think about yourself so as to mitigate risks to your own personal and financial safety. Travellers often don’t realise that the government back home won’t pay your emergency medical bills abroad in some remote private hospital. Most people don’t realise that a day in a hospital can easily cost $5,000, emergency surgery can reach $50,000 and an emergency air ambulance back home can exceed $100,000 – very few people let alone businesses can afford to cover these types of bankrupting exposures. Healthcare overseas is a big ticket business and we all too often see news headlines about families having to remortgage their home to cover overseas medical bills and the cost of air ambulances to bring a loved one back home from a trip.
If the individual is travelling for work or on business, then the exposure to the company is even greater if someone travels without protection. It is not just the cost of the medical and evacuation bills they need to consider, it is the reputational damage that can occur in the media. In some jurisdictions the personal exposure to Company Officers that had a legal Duty of Care for the well being and safety of their staff at home and overseas can lead to personal fines and even imprisonment.
What can Businesses and Individuals Do to Protect Themselves When Travelling?
It makes smart business and personal sense both financially and in terms of getting help in an emergency overseas to ensure that when travelling anywhere overseas on a trip, let alone to a part of the world where there is an increased risk to health due to lack of easy access to medical infrastructure in remote areas , that they have adequate travel insurance protection.
This becomes significantly harder for individuals such as aid workers, news reporters, charity volunteers or contractors to find when they are travelling to a higher risk destination such as central Africa, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and even in areas within regions such as South America.
This is because most standard personal and business travel insurance policies specifically exclude cover when travelling to an area of the world that is deemed higher or high risk by their government at home. For example, the UK Foreign and Common Wealth Office (FCO) publishes a list of countries and regions where they advise against ‘all but essential travel’ and in some cases ‘all travel’. Travel to these countries would usually be excluded on most everyday travel insurance plans – meaning that the policy could be invalid in the event of a claim or medical emergency.
It’s not just a medical emergency that travellers need to be protected against, plans can get cancelled due to illness, flights can be delayed, luggage can get stolen to name a few perils.
How Can They Find Cover?
When travelling to a high-risk destination it is vitally important that a ‘fit for purpose’ travel insurance is purchased from a specialist provider that has expertise in high risk insurance covers. This is because, not only does the cover need to be appropriate to the destination but also the 24/7 emergency assistance service that is provided under the policy needs to have the experience, resources and local contacts on the ground to assist in a medical situation in a remote or potentially hostile environment, rather than a twisted ankle in Spain!
The internet is always a good place to start, but you can’t always rely on what you find – so it makes good sense to work with a specialist insurance broker that understands your demands and needs. They can help find you a policy that does the job at a good price. Traditionally due to the specialist nature of high-risk insurance this would be through a Lloyd’s of London Insurance broker. But that can often be a long and drawn out manual process that comes at a high cost. However specialist high risk destination travel insurance products are available with instant quotes online from specialist providers.
It also makes sense to get some travel risk management training before going on the trip. This helps you avoid problems before they happen.
For businesses, by working with a specialist high risk insurance broker, group plans for employees can be put in place for both business travel as well as provide protection against Kidnap and Ransom overseas.
High Risk Voyager from Voyager Insurance is available online at highriskvoyager.com. This product is insured with Lloyd’s of London but offers instant quotes online for high risk destinations with the added peace of mind of having all documents delivered by email rather than relying on international post. Cover can be arranged for one trip or in many cases if you travel frequently it can be a saving to get Annual Multi Trip cover. Plus if you’ve left in a hurry, in many cases cover can even be bought if you have already travelled (and not had a claim).
High Risk Voyager include discounts if you have had high risk training. It also include access to downloadable pre-travel information on high risk destinations to help you know before you go about in-country issues. High Risk Voyager also provides an Emergency One Touch App to help connect you to the emergency operations centres and can even share (if you wish) your geographic co-ordinates if location allows.