COVID Changed Business Travel — How Accident and Health Insurance Can Help
Travelers may be getting back in the air as Americans rush to put the COVID-19 pandemic behind them, but the return of business travel remains sluggish — or at least that’s what it seems like.
Company travel budgets were slashed 90% or more in 2020, per research from Deloitte Insights, and flight data suggests that business trips may still be struggling to pick back up: “Business travel bookings with airlines are 25% to 30% below what they were pre-pandemic,” said Jim Villa, Senior Vice President, Accident and Health, Arch Insurance.
Though flight data and travel budgets may make it seem like employees are reducing the amount of work-related travel, they’re actually just taking different kinds of trips in many cases. Remote workers may be making longer journeys to visit offices in other states on a monthly or quarterly basis. Others may be blending business trips and personal vacations.
With workers traveling in different ways, accident and health business travel policies are more essential than ever to help employers protect and care for their workforce. Companies of all sizes should consider these policies as a way to effectively manage their employees’ travel plans.
“Travel needs to be thought of differently than it was in the past,” Villa said. “Business travel accident insurance is a risk management tool; it’s a benefit tool. It plays a big role when employers think about the safety and wellness and the duty of care for their employees.”
COVID-19 Transformed Business Travel
Business flights may be down, but that doesn’t mean employees aren’t traveling for work; they’re just doing it in different ways.
Nearly five million people with remote jobs have relocated since 2020. Early career professionals may have fled high-priced rents in Manhattan for smaller cities in the South and Midwest. Older workers nearing retirement may have turned to their vacation homes in Utah, Florida or California.
When these workers do visit the office, perhaps only on a monthly or quarterly basis, what was once thought of as a commute is now more akin to a work trip. Flights or trains may be involved rather than a 30 minute drive to the office via car each day.
“When you think about employees who used to be in the office every day who now have moved to a remote or hybrid environment, they’re now visiting the office from places further away, eliminating the commute as we knew it,” Villa said.
When employers do depart for a traditional business trip, they’re planning for longer travels. Many workers will tack on a few days to the beginning or end of a business trip to work remotely and explore a new city in their free time.
“Employees, especially those in younger generations, are blending their business travel with leisure,” Villa said. “Airline bookings are down, but the duration of the trips that people are taking are longer.”
Businesses of All Sizes Can Benefit from Travel Insurance Policies
Before the pandemic, business travel insurance policies were typically purchased by large, Fortune 500 companies to protect their executives and other employees when they take meetings or attend conferences abroad or within the U.S.
But with employees traveling in different ways, enterprises of all sizes may find they could benefit from purchasing an accident and health insurance policy, with travel and commuting benefits.
“Every company that has employees traveling may have a travel exposure,” Villa said.
With a travel insurance policy, companies can ensure they are protected if anything happens to an employee while they’re are traveling on business. The policies can be extended to cover a worker for a period of time before or after a trip, so if an employee decides to work remotely for a few days after a conference or event ends, they’ll still be insured through the personal deviation coverage.
“Companies are getting more flexible around travel and people blending the business and the leisure part of it,” Villa said. “If someone was at a conference, be it in the United States or outside the United States, and they decide to extend their stay and turn it into a getaway, this coverage could be extended.”
These policies also differ from a regular workers’ compensation policy in that they can cover things like an employee’s commute in certain cases. With more workers moving farther away and only visiting the office occasionally, these benefits could help in case of an accident.
“I would be covered just like if I would be on a business trip until I got to my place of employment, and when I left my place of employment and drove home, I would be covered for that trip,” Villa explained.
How Accident and Health Insurance Can Help
Arch Insurance is here to help companies discover the benefits an accident and health insurance policy can have for business travelers and to support policyholders with questions they may have.
The company’s new digital platform can help small and middle market businesses see the benefits of an accident and health insurance policy. It has an online application that enables brokers to obtain a quote within minutes for their prospective clients. The platform also features videos that help educate clients on all the benefits included in their policy.
“Due to our experience in leisure travel we know what a good online user interface feels like, and we want to apply that thinking to these types of products,” Villa said.
One such benefit the firm offers policyholders is travel assistance services. If your employees are anxious about COVID-19 or any restrictions, these services can help guide them through it, reducing anxiety around business trips.
“Travel assistance is a tool that should be a part of anybody’s travel risk management program. Right now business travelers really want to be informed so that they have an understanding of their travel risk and the impact of COVID-19 on where they’re going,” Villa said. “They want to feel confident that their organization is behind them and fully prepared to support them while thinking about their physical and mental wellbeing.”
To learn more, visit: https://insurance.archgroup.com/north-america/united-states/offering/accident-insurance/.
This article was produced by the R&I Brand Studio, a unit of the advertising department of Risk & Insurance, in collaboration with Arch Insurance Company. The editorial staff of Risk & Insurance had no role in its preparation.