political climate travel risk
Property Casualty

Traveling Internationally for Work? Two Words: ‘Be Cautious’

Joe Watts
Joe Watts
Property Casualty

If you travel for business or have employees who frequently travel, you know flying outside the U.S. provides opportunities to engage with other cultures and meet clients face to face. However, it’s no secret the ever-changing political climate can make things tricky. Now, I realize it’s unrealistic to predict every dangerous situation abroad, but simply being aware of and using preventive measures to detect risk can ensure you’re sending your employees off with applicable tools in hand.

How can you do this? Well, for starters, check with the experts on risk! Tips and data are readily available from the U.S. State Department, CIA Fact Book, insurance companies, travel resources, and travel assistance providers on how best to navigate the environment of a specific country. P.S. I can tell you a thing or two, as well.

But, just to give you an example of what I mean…say you have a client with operations in Central America. Great! Everything’s A-OK…or is it? In this specific case, you should contemplate a region commonly known as the Northern Triangle (Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador). Levels of crime, including violent crime, are high there. For example: Among the list of things your employees should be aware of would be:

  • High risk for petty crime
  • Women travelers are at a higher risk
  • Same sex activity is generally not tolerated
  • Murder rates are higher than other parts of the world

In this case (well, in any case of foreign travel), your travel manager should:

  • Educate your traveling employees before they leave on things to be aware of
  • Ensure travel management plans are in place
  • Confirm travel tracking and a crisis communication plan

And, here’s where you come in. As an employer, you should develop a strategic risk plan for travel. As a great resource, the International SOS’s website has practical strategies for improving travel risk, including suggestions such as:

  • Implement a Travel Risk Mitigation plan. Be proactive to prevent the escalation of small issues while employees are traveling.
  • Know what groups of employees have an elevated risk in certain locations. Be aware of individuals who are at higher risk when traveling and be strategic on work assignments. Equip those employees with the needed resources.
  • Be aware of changing political climates. Stay up-to-date on global news and research destinations. Your insurance company and broker can provide you with access to tools as well as the U.S. Department of State Smart Traveler Program.
  • Know the geography. What countries border the destination of your employees’ travel? Be aware of geopolitical factors in the areas around or in travel to destinations.
  • Encourage your employees to take practical measures to increase safety without creating fear. Empower employees with education and tools keeping them aware of their surroundings.

You should also consult with your insurance broker, insurance company, travel provider, or seek out other resources to ensure a successful and safe trip. I know at Holmes Murphy, we have experts well versed in international travel and would be more than willing to discuss locations and possible areas of risk, as well as help you come up with a risk plan for travel!

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