In the wake of the fatal bombings in Indonesia, PMarsh has issued a reminder to companies with employees who travel overseas of the need to have robust travel policies and emergency procedures in place to deal with crisis situations.
Marsh recommended that “all businesses review their procedures for sending staff overseas and what to do if an emergency situation occurs. Marsh’s suggested actions include:
— Distribute a formal travel policy to employees and list countries that require special authority for travel, including reference points for more detailed and up-to-date country risk information.
— Use a centralized booking system for flights and accommodation which enables you to capture requests for travel to problematic areas, and help you to monitor employees during visits. Any such requests should require sign off or refusal at executive level.
— Ensure all travelers know the procedures to undertake in a crisis situation, including medical emergencies.
— Make sure travelers take health precautions prior to travel, for example, any necessary vaccinations or courses of tablets.
— Use a reputable travel agent, airline and hotel. Try to pick a flight that arrives during daylight hours. If practical, arrange for the traveler to be met at the airport.
— Equip the traveler with emergency numbers: travel insurance, embassy, local police, company 24-hour emergency number; and agree a regular contact and monitoring routine with the traveler (by phone and/ or email).
Marsh also recommended the following advice for business travelers overseas:
— On signing in to accommodation, do not disclose your occupation, position or company
— Ask for a room on floors 2 to 10 but not adjacent to any roofs
— Check security of the door and that there is a safe in the room
— Read the safety procedures and check the emergency escape routes
— Identify safe areas you can go to if any emergency occurs
— Plan your route before leaving accommodation
— Avoid unofficial gatherings or demonstrations
— Carry a copy of passport, flight tickets, emergency help numbers and a mobile phone with you at all times
— Be alert – you can often identify a developing situation at an early stage. It is better to react quickly and avoid the danger rather than wait until it develops and have to ‘fight’ your way out.
Neil Irwin, Client Development Leader for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) at Marsh, commented: “We live in a global economy and doing business overseas is an increasingly normal element of trade. However, recent events such as Jakarta, the Mumbai terrorist attacks and the riots in Greece have brought into sharp focus the risks of doing business abroad.
“Businesses need to ensure they meet their obligations to protect those who are travelling on behalf of their organizations. Staff caught in an emergency situation overseas need to have clear information, guidance and specialist support mechanisms to call upon. Businesses can do a lot to help their staff stay safe – and have a duty of care to do so.”
Marsh also strongly urged companies to review their business travel insurance policies. They should “check the specific cover, terms and conditions of their business travel policies. In addition, kidnap, ransom and extortion insurance may be appropriate in some circumstances.”
Marsh explained that these “specialist policies commonly cover the fees and expenses of a consulting crisis management team, the payment of a ransom or extortion demand, loss of the ransom in transit and additional expenses.
“Some business travel policies, including Worldsecure Plus, a policy arranged by Marsh and underwritten by a panel of insurers, provide this cover for short-term trips of up to 12 months, but where journeys or secondments are of longer duration or involve a number of travelers, and depending on the destination, then separate specialist cover should be considered.”