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Protect frequent business fliers with travel assistance plan

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Your organization’s frequent business travelers know that political unrest, terrorism and natural disasters increase the risk of trekking to foreign destinations.

Calm their fears—and keep them safe—by prearranging for medical care should they fall ill or be injured, legal or financial help in case they’re robbed, or evacuation if there’s a disaster.

Sound expensive? It is. Business travel assistance—unlike vacation trip insurance, which reimburses the traveler if the trip is canceled—starts at $10,000 for a midsize company. But it can save tens of thousands of dollars if an employee needs help overseas.

“If you have one case throughout the year, you will have reimbursed the cost of the program,” says Guillaume Deybach, CEO of Europ Assistance USA. “It’s a good business investment.”

Example: Deybach’s organization helped a U.S. company get an employee home from a remote location in Africa after the worker became seriously ill. The firm did not have a travel assistance policy, and paid $100,000 for local transportation, on-site medical care and a medical airlift.

Here are four tips to consider if you want to protect your business travelers:

1. At a minimum, invest in a program that will handle an overseas emergency if your employees travel internationally. Organizations whose employees were in China during the spring earthquake, for example, needed to evacuate them in a hurry. Travel assistance firms have contacts around the world who speak English and know how to get Americans home.

2. Choose a plan that includes protection from identity theft. The insurance provider can cancel credit cards and get money to identity-theft victims, freeing your employees’ time to conduct business.

3. Don’t neglect travel within the United States. Most business travel, after all, is domestic. Example: A travel assistance firm can help an employee who loses her glasses by tracking down her extra pair at home and express-mailing them to her, or by booking an appointment with a local eye doctor.

4. Factor in the legal risks of sending an unprotected worker on a trip. Emergencies such as the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the SARS epidemic and the Indian Ocean tsunami raised the expectation among employees that their employers will watch their backs on business trips. 

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