Nine tips to ensure business travel safety

Careful business travelers avoid hotel networks, get vaccinated, and soak in cultural mores.
Careful business travelers avoid hotel networks, get vaccinated, and soak in cultural mores.
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Today, enterprise knows no geographic boundaries. But as businesses move into emerging economies in pursuit of new markets, they are often entering unfamiliar territory, and their workers could be at higher risk for accidents. Both employers and employees need to appropriately protect themselves to mitigate those risks, whether large or small. To help reduce the likelihood of an incident, below is a nine-point checklist for business travelers.

1. Be aware of your duty of care obligations—undertake a thorough analysis of the risks

Employers are required to sufficiently assess risks for employees who travel on business, particularly when asking them to travel overseas. Organizations need to demonstrate they have taken all practicable steps to meet their employees’ health, safety, and well-being needs, and these assessments need to be credible and documented. When assessing whether a precaution needs to be taken, the magnitude of the risk must be weighed against the difficulty, expense, and disadvantages of taking it.

2. Understand the specific travel needs of your employees

After a general risk assessment has been undertaken, policies and procedures can be developed to ensure that an employee’s individual requirements are met and that they are given appropriate information and instruction in order to manage, reduce, or eliminate specific risks. For example, employers should be aware of any pre-existing medical conditions and ensure that the destination country has the appropriate medical facilities required.

3. Provide access to a traveler safety program

Some insurers, like AIG, may already offer this as part of a wider business travel policy. This type of program highlights the risks and hazards, and can provide information directly to employees, helping encourage self-awareness in and preparing them in advance to deal with situations that may arise.

4. Invest in a business specific travel policy

Rather than relying on a leisure travel policy or coverage provided by credit cards or private banks accounts, choose a business travel policy. Business travel policies are designed to help organizations provide effective support and protection for employees. These policies frequently offer wider coverage with fewer limitations age or pre-existing medical conditions.

5. Educate employees about their destination

Encourage employees to keep themselves informed about the risks of terrorism or social unrest in the region to which they are traveling. Take advantage of web-based resources providing country information and security advice (such resources are often included alongside business travel insurance policies). And don’t fall into the trap of believing that someone knows the risks because they travel frequently or have been to the destination before. These travelers are just as likely to have something happen to them as other travelers.

6. Research cultural issues before departure

Help employees understand how clients or suppliers in a particular country do business and recognize how their practices and behaviors may be different from those in the UK. Failing to appreciate and relate to even the most subtle differences could negatively impact business. Gestures that may be ”ok” in the UK can be offensive in other countries, and body language is not globally consistent. Small matters like a raised voice or pointing can be seen as rude and reflect badly on the person concerned.

7. Encourage employees to take appropriate health precautions

Make sure employees access health information prior to travel and are vaccinated against any illnesses that may be prevalent in the country of destination. Encourage employees to take advantage of the extra services provided by insurers. AIG, for example, offers Lifeline Plus policyholders with access to country guides that provide medical, travel safety, and security information. This service also includes emergency document storage, which allows employees to scan in important documents such as driver’s licenses, passports, and medical forms. These documents could be extremely beneficial in an emergency.

8. Raise awareness about internet security and identity fraud

Forewarn employees about using the internet while traveling. Recent surveys have shown that as many as 38% of all known security breaches happen on hotel networks. Encourage employees to turn on their firewall, keep their operating system up-to-date, avoid online activities that require accessing personal information, and avoid logging into personal accounts at public workstations.

9. Develop an evacuation policy for dealing with emergencies

Make sure this policy is clearly communicated and that employees carry with them the appropriate contact numbers in order to access help quickly in an emergency situation. AIG’s Lifeline Plus policy, for example, provides all policyholders with leave-behind packs. These materials enable business travelers to leave details at home so that in an emergency, family and friends can get the information they need.

To discover more AIG insights, click here.

This article was produced by AIG and not by the Quartz editorial staff.