As companies and employees look toward resuming business travel, they are navigating today’s changed landscape with an understandable tension between caution and confidence.
For months, employees have been willing to travel for business again. According to a Chubb survey released in April, nearly three out of four (71%) respondents reported willingness to travel.
One of the foremost reasons making business travelers eager to travel once again is the preservation of business relationships. In our survey, 74% of respondents believed that travel restrictions negatively affected their ability to serve clients effectively, develop new business, and maintain relationships with clients and business partners.
Despite employees’ desire to travel, they are nevertheless hesitant in the current environment. Fifty-two percent of respondents to a 2021 survey by International SOS, a travel assistance provider, believe health and security risks for business travelers increased in 2021.
Today’s business travelers are raising a range of questions around trip logistics and prerequisites related to the pandemic, with travel delays noted as their primary concern in the April Chubb survey. Specifically, business travelers are concerned about staff shortages, weather events, and other “surprises” that could lead to delays.
Two other consistent concerns were travel restrictions related to COVID-19 and COVID-19 variants. Travelers are also aware of evolving exposures, such as social unrest and increased crime, extreme weather, and unpredictable fellow travelers.
The new travel landscape makes anticipating a wider range of potential disruptions more important than ever for employers. For example, even if a traveler does not contract COVID-19, the employee may need to quarantine in a country and navigate local health regulations on their business trip. Other considerations include the possibility for civil unrest or severe weather events, along with the potential need for intricate treatments and evaluations of employees who experience serious medical issues.
As a result, employers must ensure that travelers are well-prepared for the health and security risks they may face along their journey and provide the necessary support if something goes wrong. Employees surveyed acknowledge their employers’ efforts in taking extra care to protect them on business trips, with business travelers in our earlier survey saying they were more comfortable traveling for business than leisure.
To maintain employees’ confidence, risk and benefit managers can work with an agent or broker to construct business travel accident coverage that responds to employees’ needs in today’s evolving travel risk scenarios while also shielding the employer from excess costs.
However, having the proper coverage is just the start. It’s also crucial that companies invest extra effort to clearly articulate to employees what they are providing to protect them on business trips. An example is providing the services of a travel assistance provider that can help with pre-trip planning and is available to employees on a 24/7 basis during the business trip.
To learn more about business travel risks, download our global risk spotlight, Taking Turbulence Out of Business Travel.
Joseph Weiss is Vice President, Accident & Health (A&H) Division at Chubb, and Jeremy Prout is Director of Security Solutions, Americas, at International SOS.
The opinions and positions expressed are the authors’ own and not those of Chubb. The information and/ or data provided herein is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice. Insurance coverage is subject to the language of the policies as issued.