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Heading Abroad? Know the Risks

There is more to consider with international business travel besides good insurance coverage.
By: | March 29, 2017 • 7 min read

It used to be that international business travel was a glamorous perk reserved for Fortune 500 senior executives who globetrotted the world securing sales and distribution deals. Think first class flights, high-end restaurants and luxury hotels.

But oh have times changed!

As the global economy becomes more interconnected, many more companies and their employees are conducting business around the world in search of cost-effective suppliers and new sales markets.

“There are so many industries that used to be domestic U.S. focused but have since grown and expanded to be global. We’re seeing consultants, law firms, construction companies, even hospitals looking for opportunities outside the U.S.,” said Kathleen Ellis, Senior Vice President, International, at CNA. “While you can certainly accomplish a lot through conference calls, there is still a need for face-to-face meetings.”

Despite the rising frequency of international business travel, many companies underestimate the safety and liability risks facing their employees abroad, and are unknowingly under-insured.

The Mundane is Riskier than the Dramatic

Kathleen Ellis, Senior Vice President, International

Terrorism and crime usually get the most attention when it comes to global travel risk, but mundane safety issues are the more common causes of claims.

Slips and falls, for example, are much more likely when an employee is fatigued from a seven-hour flight. All it takes is a momentary lapse of attention to take a stray step into the way of an oncoming cyclist. Simple mistakes like misplacing a passport or a vital prescription can also call for immediate assistance and delay travel plans. Unpredictable illnesses likewise may require medical care and an extended stay.

“International business travel is expensive not just in terms of cost, but in terms of time and energy. There’s the stress of spending hours cramped in a plane, time-zone adjustments, sleep deprivation and still needing to be prepared to do business,” Ellis said. “That stress is compounded if you go to a country where you don’t speak the language, can’t read street signs or can’t communicate that you need help.”

These everyday woes are more frequent claim drivers than outright violence or crime.

“Sometimes people are not aware of all the aspects of international travel that they should anticipate or try to control,” said Chris Brutzman, Underwriting Director, CNA. “As a result, companies rely on domestic coverage that is just insufficient.”

The Problem of Incomplete Coverage

Too often, Ellis and Brutzman see middle-market companies rely on their domestic workers’ compensation coverage to cover incidental foreign travel accidents.

Workers’ compensation often includes some coverage for injuries incurred abroad, but the rules will vary depending on which state the coverage is written.

“Domestic workers’ comp may not apply 24/7, meaning it may not cover incidents that occur during ‘off work’ hours, and may not pay for emergency services like medical care,” Brutzman said.

And it would not respond to incidents where injury isn’t involved.

Becoming ill, getting robbed, losing a passport or anything else that requires immediate assistance and delays travel would be uncovered. Companies may procure trip travel insurance to cover expenses related to delay of travel, but even that may not be adequate for the full exposure.

Problems can also arise if a company purchases an international travel package from a different carrier than is used domestically.

“There’s almost guaranteed to be some finger-pointing if you have different insurers providing your domestic and international coverages,” Brutzman said. The policy language may not be consistent. This means the policies won’t “connect” in the right spots, leading to both gaps and overlaps in coverage.

The Coverage Solution

A comprehensive travel insurance package is more than workers’ comp. It should also include property policies to cover personal items like laptops; general liability and excess auto policies to cover the risks associated with renting a car; and business travel accident to fill in the gaps left by domestic workers’ compensation.

International policies should complement and work in sync with local policies to create streamlined and continuous coverage that meets the United States’ higher insurance standards.

“Take auto liability as an example. The U.S. requires pretty high limits as the norm, but we’ve seen some countries with limits as low as $5,000 in liability cover,” Brutzman said. “We arrange locally admitted policies to ensure compliance with local laws and regulations, but the goal of many international policies is to bring the local coverage up to a U.S. standard.”

Middle-market companies are often unaware of the liability exposure they take on without a suite of international policies. In particular, excess auto coverage is crucial for any employee renting a car.

“It has happened where someone rents a car abroad and causes an accident that results in injury,” Ellis said. “The liability will ultimately fall back to the employer.”

Companies may also be unaware of where exactly their domestic workers’ compensation coverage ends.

If an injury happens during an employee’s personal time, domestic workers’ compensation coverage would treat it as non-work related, even though it occurred in the course of a business trip. And it certainly would not respond to injuries suffered by a non-employee.

Don’t Overlook “Bleisure”

Business travel accident coverage acts a supplement to workers’ compensation, extending coverage to spouses or other travel companions around the clock. In other words, it covers ‘bleisure’ travel.

“The business travel accident supplement is referred to as ‘bleisure’ coverage because it encompasses both business and leisure travel,” Ellis said. “If you bring your family on a business trip and then extend it a little longer for vacation, this policy would provide coverage for everyone for the length of the trip.”

Ellis sees “bleisure” as a rising trend. More executives are opting to take advantage of travel opportunities by bringing along a spouse or friend and tacking on some vacation time. From their employers’ perspective, providing coverage for those traveling companions works for everyone’s benefit.

With the increasing cost of travel, businesses choose their trips and travelers carefully. Typically, business travelers are key executives. They are the decision-makers who need to seal the deal and make it back to the home office safely. It’s in a company’s best interest to provide full coverage for those executives even while they are on vacation time. The same goes for their loved ones. Though not an employee, any injury or mishap suffered by a key executive’s spouse will certainly impact the company.

Support as Critical as Coverage

Coverage, though, is the last thing on employees’ minds if they or a family member gets sick or hurt. Insurance is only meaningful when coupled with the right services. Travelers will need local help immediately if they are robbed, lose something or get sick. And due to time differences, these incidents tend to happen while the folks at home are sound asleep.

“A few years ago, for example, we sent a helicopter to airlift an injured insured out of the Amazon,” Brutzman said. “That’s an extreme scenario, but you can never be too prepared. The geopolitical environment is always changing, as are foreign laws and regulations, so this is not a static risk.”

To make sure they have all necessary coverage and services in place, risk managers should look to carriers with experience and developed expertise in the realm of global travel.

“Lots of carriers offer a comprehensive travel insurance package, but we are unique in how we execute it. We want to be problem-solvers who work with clients and brokers in a meaningful way,” Ellis said.

CNA’s companion services provide resources through every leg of a traveler’s journey, from pre-trip briefings and safety recommendations to emergency medical care if needed, and direction if a passport is lost or stolen. Insureds can access these services anywhere in the world, 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

To learn more about CNA’s international travel insurance, visit https://www.cna.com.

One or more of the CNA companies provide the products and/or services described. The information is intended to present a general overview for illustrative purposes only. It is not intended to constitute a binding contract. Please remember that only the relevant insurance policy can provide the actual terms, coverages, amounts, conditions and exclusions for an insured. All products and services may not be available in all states and may be subject to change without notice. “CNA” is a service mark registered by CNA Financial Corporation with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Certain CNA Financial Corporation subsidiaries use the “CNA” service mark in connection with insurance underwriting and claims activities. Copyright © 2017 CNA. All rights reserved.
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This article was produced by the R&I Brand Studio, a unit of the advertising department of Risk & Insurance, in collaboration with CNA. The editorial staff of Risk & Insurance had no role in its preparation.




Serving business and professionals since 1897, CNA is the commercial insurance carrier of choice for more than 1 million businesses and professionals worldwide.

Risk Management

The Profession

The risk manager for Boyd Gaming Corp. says curiosity keeps him engaged, and continual education will be the key to managing emerging risks.
By: | May 1, 2018 • 4 min read

R&I: What was your first job?

I was trained as an accountant, worked in public accounting and became a CPA. Being comfortable with numbers is helpful in my current role, and obviously, the language of business is financial statements, so it helps.

R&I: How did you come to work in risk management?

Working in finance in the corporate environment included the review of budgets and the analysis of business expenses. I quickly found the area of benefits and insurance — and how “accepting risk” impacted those expenses — to be fascinating. I asked a lot of questions. Be careful what you ask for — I soon found myself responsible for those insurance areas and haven’t looked back!

R&I: What is the risk management community doing right?

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I have found the risk management community to be a close-knit group, whether that’s industry professionals, risk managers with other companies or support organizations like RIMS and other regional groups. The expertise of the carriers and specialty vendors to develop new products and programs, along with the appropriate education, will continue to be of key importance to companies going forward.

R&I: What’s been the biggest change in the risk management and insurance industry since you’ve been in it?

As I’m sure many in the insurance field would agree, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 changed our world and our industry. It was a particularly intense time and certainly a baptism by fire for people like me who were relatively new to the industry. This event clearly accelerated the switch to the acceptance of more risk, which impacted mitigation strategies and programs.

Bob Berglund, vice president, benefits and insurance, Boyd Gaming Corp.

R&I: What emerging commercial risk most concerns you?

The fast-paced threat that cyber security represents today. Our company, like so many companies, is reliant upon computers, software and IT expertise in our everyday existence. This new risk has forged an even stronger relationship between risk management and our IT department as we work together to address this growing threat.

Additionally, the shooting event in Las Vegas in 2017 will have an enduring impact on firms that host large gatherings and arena-style events all over the world, and our company is no exception.

R&I: What insurance carrier do you have the highest opinion of?

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With the various types of insurance programs we employ, I have been fortunate to work with most of the large national and international carriers — all of whom employ talented people with a vast array of resources.

R&I:  How much business do you do direct versus going through a broker?

We use brokers for many of our professional coverages, such as property, casualty, D&O and cyber. We are self-insured under our health plans, with close to 25,000 members. We tend to manage those programs internally and utilize direct relationships with carriers and specialty vendors to tailor a plan that works best for team members.

R&I: Who is your mentor and why?

I have been fortunate to have worked alongside some smart and insightful people during my career. A key piece of advice, said in many different ways, has served me well. Simply stated: “Seek to understand before being understood.”

What this has meant to me is try everything you can to learn about something, new or old. After you have gained this knowledge, you can begin to access and maybe suggest changes or adjustments. Being curious has always been a personal enjoyment for me in business, and I have found people are more than willing to lend a hand, offer information and advice — you just need to ask. Building those alliances and foundations of knowledge on a subject matter makes tackling the future more exciting and fruitful.

R&I: What have you accomplished that you are proudest of?

Our benefit health plan is much more than handing out an insurance card at the beginning of the year. We encourage our team members and their families to learn about their personal health, get engaged in a variety of health and wellness programs and try to live life in the healthiest possible way. The result of that is literally hundreds of testimonials from our members every year on how they have lost weight, changed their lifestyle and gotten off medications. It is extremely rewarding and is a testament to [our] close-knit corporate culture.

R&I: What’s the best restaurant you’ve ever eaten at?

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Some will remember the volcano eruption in Iceland in spring of 2010. I was just finishing a week of meetings in London with Lloyd’s syndicates related to our property insurance placement when the airspace in England and most of northern Europe was shut down — no airplanes in or out! Flights were ultimately canceled for the following five days. Therefore, with a few other stranded visitors like myself, we experimented and tried out new restaurants every day until we could leave. It was a very interesting time!

R&I: What is the riskiest activity you ever engaged in?

I am originally from Canada, and I played ice hockey from the time I was four years old up until quite recently. Too many surgeries sadly forced my recent retirement.

R&I: What do your friends and family think you do?

That’s a funny one … I am a CPA working in the casino industry, doing insurance and risk management, so neighbors and acquaintances think I either do tax returns or they think I’m a blackjack dealer at the casino!




Katie Dwyer is an associate editor at Risk & Insurance®. She can be reached at [email protected]