Sally Swann

Sally Swann head of Midlands UK retail, JLT Specialty

A planned approach to travel risk

Exporting & entering new markets presents many opportunities to businesses however, it also creates new risks that require identification, analysis and management says Sally Swann head of Midlands UK retail, JLT Specialty.

Business travellers face a wide variety of risks and dangers, including terrorism, riots, extreme weather events, traffic accidents, petty crime, illness and disease. 

Failure to ensure the safety of employees on business trips and have risk management strategies in place, which detail the actions required in each circumstance, exposes businesses to a range of risks. These include reputational damage, business interruption and legal liabilities. Firms face civil and contractual obligations, and occupational health and safety laws, which vary by country.

Often, a serious incident results in legal claims irrespective of the steps an employer has taken, because when things go awry, people look to blame someone.

A carefully considered risk management strategy will minimise the chances of an incident to begin with, reassure staff of the employer’s concern, and provide a defence should the worst happen. The precise strategy will vary with the risks and with the nature, destination and duration of travel. Businesses must address four key areas to meet their responsibilities:

  1. Pre-travel risk assessment
  2. Mitigation of identified risks
  3. Monitoring of people while away
  4. Incident response

Insurance, in the form of traditional and specialist policies, not only covers losses/costs, it also offers access to consultancy and response services. This can range from advice, relocation in the case of civil commotion, to air ambulance and evacuation services for illness or injury.

Part of the challenge when managing travel risks is determining the insurance required. Businesses can cover many standard ‘people’ risks through a combined personal accident (PA) and corporate travel (CT) policy. This will provide unlimited cover for the medical expenses, emergency travel and repatriation costs for injury or illness. It also provides access to services and support from a third-party travel assistance company.

In other respects, however, cover is more limited – particularly for security threats in higher risk territories. Most PA/CT policies have small limits of indemnity and restrictions (including exclusions of certain territories) for risks such as terrorism, hijacking, kidnapping and political violence.

This is where specialist kidnap and ransom (K&R) policies come in. Despite the name, these policies respond to a much wider range of perils and a comprehensive K&R policy will overlap and complement an underlying PA/CT policy.

Companies who have employees working abroad should be working closely with their travel manager, as well as their insurance broker, to fully understand their risks and ensure they have appropriate insurance protection.

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For more information on managing your risk and insurance programme please email:

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If you would like to learn how we can help your business protect your employees when travelling abroad please email