Is enough being done to protect the corporate traveller?

A new study from a UK association representing risk managers and insurance buyers has found that organisations are not doing enough to ensure their travel risk strategies are fit for the 21st century realities. Airmic, which describes itself as “the association for everyone who has a responsibility for risk management and insurance for their organisation” says such organisations are not fulfilling their legal duty of care to employees.

The report, Travel Risk Management Guide 2017, has been produced in association with International SOS, the world’s leading medical and travel security, risk services company Control Risks and the RSA, one of the world’s leading multinational insurance groups,  and has been published to identify trends in corporate travel risk management.

Businesses have a legal duty of care to protect their employees, and yet only 16% of Airmic members surveyed have high confidence in their travel risk management framework, says the report, with less than a fifth of Airmic members reporting that travel risk is a top concern for them.

Globalisation, an increasing dependence on complex supply chains and reduced travel costs mean that business travel is a growing trend. PwC reports that business travel levels have grown by 25% over the last decade and is expected to increase by over 50% between 2010 and 2020 (Talent Mobility 2020.

The definition of traveller has also been expanded. The traditional ‘business traveller’ as a professional worker has been replaced with a wider definition of ‘mobile workers’ travelling on behalf of their companies. Airmic members additionally report that they send their people to a wider range of territories, including high- or extreme-risk regions.

To respond to this increased reliance on travel, organisations need flexible and evolving travel risk management strategies that go beyond purchasing travel insurance. These strategies should respond to the different risks present in different territories and the requirements of the different individuals travelling, says Airmic, and must be able to respond to the wide range of factors that can convert even a low-risk destination into a high risk destination, e.g. health, safety, security, political or social change, and natural disasters.

Julia Graham, Airmic’s deputy chief executive officer and technical director, says: “Sadly every week we are currently reminded why having an effective travel risk management framework in place is imperative. As the tragic events in Westminster, Manchester and more recently on London Bridge and Borough Market demonstrate, any destination can become high risk at an intense speed”.

According to the report, insurance is one of the few steps being undertaken, and while important, is not a sufficient answer. Organisations also need fast and reliable sources of intelligence before, and when, a situation unfolds. Further to this, a duty of care to employees should include a speedy response to managing the crisis, whether it be the simple locating of staff or a more complex extraction.

“I urge all risk professionals to review, update and rehearse how they would respond should such an incident impact their organisation. Knowing where your people are and how you can communicate with each other in the event of a crisis is especially important”, continued Ms Graham.

The guide also notes that today there is a greater diversity of people undertaking business travel. Organisations therefore need to risk-profile each travel destination in view of their own policies for diversity and inclusion.

The report also sets out good practice for risk managers and provides a travel toolkit to help organisations improve their policies – before, during, and post-travel. It offers advice on buying insurance, noting that it is critical that “vital” organisations understand any exclusions and consider the impact of business travel on long term covers, including those for permanent health and life assurance.

FIND OUT MORE… Travel Risk Management Guide 2017