SAFE PASSAGE

Business Traveler|July/August 2020

SAFE PASSAGE
What travelers should know about taking care when they take to the road in a post-panic world
FATIMA DURRANI KHAN

Looking ahead to the world as it emerges from the COVID-19 crisis, business travelers face a daunting balancing act: managing current risks and working to reboot their enterprises. So it’s more important than ever for business travelers to understand their insurance needs, company risks and best practices for personal safety.

While international business travel is beginning to open, the notion of “getting back to normal” is still a far cry from reality. As it stands, shrinking economies around the world and a likely number of failures across the travel industry will necessitate a continued overall slower pace for business travel. Add to this mix recent civil unrest in the US and elsewhere and the danger of new COVID-19 outbreaks, and we may be in a “one step forward, two steps back” scenario for many months ahead.

The pandemic response is generating almost daily changes to travel providers’ policies, and confusing (and sometimes contradictory) health guidelines from different sources. In such an environment, rebuilding trust in travel will be the primary driver behind decision-making.

“With a pandemic like COVID-19, employers and employees now have to assess a risk which is quite different than a political or natural disaster risk, and a risk that is worldwide, so employers need to exercise caution for domestic travel as well,” says Dominick Zenzola, vice president and senior manager of accident and health underwriting at global insurer Axis.

“There’s a lot of focus on best practices for staying safe, but it’s of paramount importance for travelers to also understand, in detail, how they individually – or how their company – will prepare to actually manage a health or safety event while traveling,” notes Michael Hallman, CEO of Birmingham, AL-based Medjet. “It’s especially important in rebuilding their own confidence in getting back out on the road,” Hallman adds. “Knowledge is power.”

DO YOUR HOMEWORK

Rebuilding the trust muscle takes time, patience and doing your due diligence. “Until we have reliable, confirmed data from several trusted sources, its best to err on the side of caution,” prefaces Stephen Barth, founder of HospitalityLawyer.com in Houston, TX. “So before going to your destination, understand what’s happening in that place.”

But the good news, Barth explains, is that you don’t have to figure it all out yourself. “You can access websites such as ISOS (internationalsos.com) where they track both medical and security conditions on the ground. For example, they know whether local laws require you to quarantine for 28 days or 14 or 3; whether you’re required to wear masks or if there is a curfew. Knowing the rules in advance is essential for ‘smart’ travel risk management.”

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July/August 2020