Protect Employees Around the Globe with Business Travel Accident Insurance
By April Rowe | Published April 20, 2021
April Rowe, Global Client Manager on the ABD Global Team, works with companies with a growing global presence, assisting them in managing global benefits, insurance regulations, and compliance with foreign and international laws and guidelines. The global benefits and insurance landscape can be a complex web of changing regulations and expectations, and April, along with Global team members Ed Cha, Eddie Gow, and Mei Huang, ensure that companies are informed and protected as they expand into international markets.
A key piece of this coverage comes in the form of Business Travel Accident (BTA) Insurance, which offsets the risk of injury or illness for employees who travel for work. In this Q&A with April, she discusses the risks of business travel and the role BTA insurance plays in robust employee benefits and insurance programs.
What is Business Travel Accident (BTA) Insurance?
BTA insurance is a policy that provides accident protection for employees traveling internationally or staying for an extended period of time in another country for work. Frequently included in BTA policies is coverage for injury or illness that requires medical attention, travel assistance, and sojourn and personal deviation coverage for employees who travel for leisure before or after business travel. Costs can quickly add up in case of emergency, and business travel accident insurance is typically inexpensive and can provide real protection from the financial burden of these emergencies.
How does BTA insurance fit into global benefits programs?
BTA insurance often functions as both an extension of an employee benefits plan and as an insurance policy that covers gaps not fulfilled by liability or foreign package insurance. Because most employee health and benefits plans do not include coverage in foreign countries or would consider care received abroad as “out-of-network”, BTA insurance can provide employees with medical benefits abroad in case of injury or unexpected illness without the worry of massive out-of-pocket costs.
Additionally, employers have a duty of care obligation to employees when sending them on necessary travel to foreign countries. Whether traveling to foreign offices and job sites or staying for extended periods of time to meet with clients or vendors, employees can be exposed to innumerous risks, and because they’re there on company business, employers are responsible for their well-being in the event of an emergency. Often, we find that typical liability or foreign package insurance doesn’t include coverage for employees traveling abroad or has coverage far too low to cover the potentially enormous losses incurred from emergency medical care.
ABD has global BTA plan designs with several carriers to provide blanket coverage for all of an employers’ global employee base, which keeps the administration of the policy simple.
What’s the most surprising thing about BTA insurance?
I’m always shocked by how expensive traveling without business travel accident coverage can be – costs are truly staggering, and we’ve seen sums in the range of hundreds of thousands of dollars. It can also be surprising to know how many employers and employees travel without understanding that risk.
An example from one of our clients of their BTA insurance policy really working as it was designed involved a U.S. employee, with a preexisting condition, traveling in a European country for several weeks for work. When he was abroad, his condition worsened, requiring immediate emergency care. He was admitted to the intensive care unit, where doctors had to coordinate his care with his specialists in the U.S. and eventually approved him for medical evacuation via air ambulance to receive treatment at home. We had fortunately just placed a BTA policy for this company, which covered the entirety of the cost for his care abroad and medical evacuation and otherwise would have been several hundreds of thousands of dollars for either him or his employer.
International travel is currently very limited for U.S. residents due to COVID-19 restrictions. How do you predict global business travel insurance to change in a post-pandemic world?
With several recent state laws and regulations created to hold employers accountable for their non-remote employees contracting or transmitting the coronavirus, the conversation around employers’ responsibility for their employees’ health in the workplace is changing. I think COVID-19 will likely set a precedent for a higher duty of care expected of employers.
Currently, no carriers provide coverage for costs like COVID-19 testing, mandatory quarantine, and other costs of COVID-19 protection. In the “new normal” of the post-pandemic insurance landscape, I think we may see coverage evolve to protect against pandemics and other public health risks, including costs like mandatory quarantines and prevention.
April Rowe brings over 15 years of employee benefits experience to the team, focusing her expertise on global mobility. April can work with you to ensure you have a comprehensive business travel accident plan that ensures unforeseen exposures are covered.