Duty of Care: Protecting Your Employees Traveling Abroad

Legally, it is your responsibility to protect your employees when they are traveling or working abroad.   The good news is that employers now have greater access than ever before to services that properly protect and assist their employees.  This is a good thing because the courts are now holding employers to higher standards of care.  A Duty of Care Program should be considered for all companies (non–profit or otherwise) that have employees working or traveling internationally.  This article is intended as a brief overview of some of the more common coverage parts that would facilitate a prudent Duty of Care Program.

  1. Evacuation – Many policies specify “Medical” evacuation.  This is all well and good, but a strong program will also provide evacuation for security and political events or evacuation due to a natural disaster.  These policies and endorsements need to be balanced carefully to avoid confusion at the time of the event and to avoid unnecessary duplication.
  2. Kidnap, Ransom and Extortion Insurance – Care should be taken when this coverage is purchased as part of a Foreign Package policy.  The limits included in a package policy are usually low and frequently include a substantial list of excluded countries.  This “throw- in” coverage has its place, but its limitations should be fully understood before relying on it to properly protect risks with more than a modicum of foreign travel involved.  The major carriers who routinely provide coverage in the international market all have Kidnap, Ransom and Extortion polices on a stand-alone basis that have no country exclusions and whose third-party negotiators are top notch.  A stand-alone policy of this type is usually well worth any difference in premium.
  3. Foreign General Liability – Many forget to mention it, but providing General Liability that extends worldwide (no matter where the suit is brought) protects your employees as well as the company.  To review, General Liability is coverage and defense for claims alleging bodily injury or property damage to a third party.  While many U.S. General Liability policies will extend coverage for an overseas event if the suit is brought in the U.S., it is vital that companies with overseas exposures properly protect themselves and their employees if sued in a foreign court.
  4. Foreign Voluntary Workers’ Compensation – Provides coverage that “mirrors” the Workers’ Compensation coverage (or social welfare provisions) of the country where the employee was hired or is a citizen.  Both traveling employees and expats can be covered for work-related accidents occurring away from their country of residence or citizenship at the limits and benefits of their home country.  It is important to remember that “local nationals” are covered by this policy only when working outside of their country of residence.
  5. Business Travel Accident – This coverage can be written to cover independent contractors (in addition to employees ) and can (if properly endorsed ) provide medical and sickness coverage for non–employees working on behalf of the insured company as well as evacuation coverage due to natural disaster or security-related incidents.
  6. Contingent Automobile Liability – Although not meant as a substitute for meeting legal Automobile insurance requirements in a foreign country, Contingent Auto Liability will protect the insured against gaps due to insufficient local limits, fraud on the part of the local carrier or carrier insolvency.
  7. International  Health Insurance – International health insurance is designed for those working or living overseas for a prolonged period of time.  It covers treatment for both routine and emergency healthcare, and provides expats with choices with respect to doctors and treatment facilities, as well as the ability to receive treatment anywhere within their coverage region.
  8. Travel Assistance – The major carriers include (as part of an International package policy or a Business Travel Accident policy) access to a travel assistance provider that will help travelers 24/7 with issues including but not limited to:  location of embassies, hospitals or treatment facilities; passport replacement; emergency cash; referrals to local attorneys or other professionals and emergency messaging.  Included in many programs are concierge services to make reservations or set up tee times.

Proper insurance protection for international risks can be surprisingly affordable.  With that said, a proper Duty of Care Program requires that corporate strategy is properly coordinated and communicated to traveling employees prior to a crisis situation in order  to avoid confusion during an emergency event.

Please contact Jeff Schilling at Early, Cassidy & Schilling directly at (240) 864 -9153 to discuss your company’s International Risks or Duty of Care Program in detail.

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