Travel insurance at affordable premiums

Guide To Business Travel Insurance

  1. Travelling for business
  2. Work Equipment - Protecting your mobile office
  3. Health and safety abroad
  4. Business travel resources

Travelling for business

Thousands of people travel abroad from the UK on business every year. Despite having access to new technology like video conferencing, the need to travel for business purposes is still there, whether travelling for:

  • meetings with clients and customers;
  • sales purposes;
  • marketing;
  • conferences;
  • business fairs.

According to the Office of National Statistics, in 2011:

  • 730,000 business travellers travelled to North America, spending £943 million;
  • 5,186,000 travelled to Europe, spending over £2 billion;
  • business travellers stayed an average of six days in all destinations, spending £663 per trip;
  • 5,315 males travelled on business, spending £3,573, compared to 1,518 females, who spent £949.

Business travel insurance: who needs it?

Many people may require business travel insurance. But what exactly is it?

This is essentially a travel insurance policy that is targeted specifically at those travelling for business purposes. As a result, it will often have many of the standard types of cover included on a travel insurance policy, but will also have additional levels of cover that are only relevant for those people who travel on business.

It is not always restricted to what you may consider are pure business visits. It could also prove useful if you are heading abroad to volunteer in some capacity or to work abroad undertaking some light manual work.

Why standard travel insurance may not be enough

Travel insurance is an important consideration whenever you go overseas. But a standard single-trip or multi-trip policy is aimed at tourists and therefore covers the main things that tourists can expect to encounter.

Business insurance provides more, ensuring not only the personal safety of you or your employees, but also financial protection for your business equipment and money.

What does business travel insurance cover?

Business insurance comes in a range of cover options. Sometimes you will find that there is a separate policy for business travellers, but other times you may find that business cover is added onto a standard single-trip policy.

In addition, every policy differs slightly from provider to provider. You may find that certain events are covered on one policy but not on another, or that limits differ depending on where you buy it.

Some policies may be quite basic, whereas some will be more comprehensive. The important thing is to make sure you search for a policy that is suitable for you and your business trip overseas.

Some of the main things that may be included in a business insurance policy include:

  • business money, which you or your employees may need to cover your expenses. You may need to take more than you would take for a non-business-related trip, and losing it could be problematic;
  • business equipment, which is often a key item and may cover computers, tablets, mobile phones and more. One thing to remember is that upper limits per-item are often included, so always make sure you have enough cover for your expensive items. You may also find that the insurer will only cover your items if you take all reasonable care to look after them properly. So, leaving your ipad unattended on a table while you nip to the bar would be seen as a bit a reckless and it is unlikely your claim would be successful;
  • equipment hire, which may provide the cost of hiring an important item of equipment that you need for your trip should yours get lost or stolen. This usually only covers direct replacements rather than the cost of hiring equipment if you forget to pack something;
  • replacement personnel may sometimes be included, which covers all or some of the expenses for a replacement colleague to travel in your place should you be unable to attend an important event or meeting due to illness of having an accident;
  • a courier service may also be included, which is intended to cover the cost of sending irreplaceable documents from your country of residence to your destination country if something happens to them.

How to make a claim when abroad

Making a claim is something that essentially you never want to have to do. However, when something goes wrong, you may need to use your policy, and you should plan what to do in advance in the event of making a claim.

Some policies may make it easier to make a claim than others, and this is something you should take into account when deciding which insurer to use. Try to find out in advance what the procedure is, because you will want one that is as simple as possible.

Look through the policy wording before you go away to find out about making a claim. Some insurers will send you a certificate, and others may send you a card to keep with you. You should be provided with a number that you can call when you are overseas in order to make a claim, and you should keep this number with you at all times along with your policy number.

The general process will include calling the insurer from overseas and quoting your policy number. You will normally then have to explain your situation to the representative. Depending on your situation, you will be told what to do.

For some things, like claiming for a stolen laptop, you will usually need to show evidence of the theft, such as police reports or a police crime reference number. As a result, you will usually have to deal with these when you return. However, you should still contact your insurer while you are abroad to find out what you need to do and to make them aware of your situation. Failure to do so within a specified time limit could render your claim invalid.

If you are in an accident, again, you or someone else should call the insurer and provide details of your situation, and they will then provide you with advice on what you need to do.

The important thing is that you always call your insurer to alert them to a situation and get advice. Many have designated helplines in addition to their claims service, which can provide specific help and advice (for example, where to get a temporary passport from if yours is lost or stolen etc.)

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Protecting your mobile office

When you travel abroad for work, you will probably take certain equipment with you. This could be as simple as your smartphone, but it could also include your tablet, laptop, camera, books and other valuable items like your money, as well as work documents like presentations or samples to show clients.

Indeed, one of the main reasons people take out insurance is to protect their equipment, so it makes sense to do everything you can to look after it properly.

Look after your equipment

Taking steps to look after your equipment is not just for your own peace of mind: your insurer may refuse to cover your claim if you do not look after it properly. For example, if you leave your laptop in an unlocked car and it gets stolen, they may not cover this because you did not take due care.

To protect your equipment when you are overseas:

  • keep it with you as much as possible. Take it on the flight rather than placing it in the hold luggage, and carry it with you when you are out and about;
  • lock it somewhere safe when you are not using it. If there is a safe in your hotel room, use it. If that is not big enough, ask to leave it at the reception because they will often have a larger safe;
  • take care when you are in unfamiliar surroundings. Plan where you are going, and don't take out your tablet in a café unless you know it is safe to do so;
  • try not to stop in the middle of a street with a map and look lost, because this could make you more of a target.

TOP TIP – don’t forget the new rules that many airlines are now introducing relating to having electronic devices fully charged up when you travel.

Research your destination and prepare

Part of protecting yourself and your equipment involves properly researching where you are going in advance and making suitable preparations. Are there any areas where thefts are common? Is pickpocketing rife in the local airport or particular areas of the city?

Find out about common techniques used to rob people. Sometimes techniques are more common in certain areas, and it is useful to be prepared for these.

Take official taxis when you travel around. Find out what they look like, and consider calling ahead instead to avoid taking one in the street. Use official companies all the time, especially when you are travelling with all of your equipment, such as when you arrive at the airport.

Know about insurance limits

Insurance policies will nearly always put a limit on how much you can claim for when it comes to business equipment. However, there are two limits to be aware of:

  • the overall limit for your equipment;
  • the per-item limit.

You may have an overall limit that is quite high, which can be useful if you lose your bag with lots of equipment in it. However, the per-item limit is often a lot lower. Don't ignore the per-item limit. If you have a laptop that costs £1,000, but your per-item limit is only £500, you will not be able to cover for the full cost of the laptop – even if your total limit for all items is a lot higher.

Write down everything you are taking

You may want to take some time to prepare for the worst-case scenario. Create a spreadsheet with details of all your equipment and write down the make and model number of each item. Take a photo of each one as well, and keep these together in a file. Consider using an app like Evernote, which you can use to store this information and get access to it anywhere.

Work out how much your items are worth, and collect together receipts for each of them. You could also scan these and place them with your online file so you have everything to hand.

Not only will this make it easier if you need to make a claim, but it can also help you to decide what to take. If all of your items add up to more than your insurance will cover, you may want to leave some of them back home instead.

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Health and safety abroad

Getting ill or requiring medical assistance is one of the main reasons you may decide to get business travel insurance.

It can be very distressing to require medical care when you are in unfamiliar surroundings, especially if you do not speak the local language. It can also be very costly, so it is important to have a policy that provides you with the required amount of cover.

Even so, you should do everything you can to protect yourself and stay safe on your business trip.

When when travelling to parts of Europe where the EHIC is valid, note that you may still need to pay for some costs such as medications or bandages. Check that you have a valid EHIC before you travel, as these do expire.

Don’t also forget that your business travel insurance will cover any repatriation costs – so, if you had emergency surgery and missed your booked flight home, the insurance would typically pay for you to go on another flight, possibly with someone to look after you, and depending on the severity of your illness or incapacity.

Find out if you need country-specific vaccinations

In some countries around the world, you will require vaccinations for diseases like yellow fever, typhoid and rabies. Ideally, you should head to your doctor a few months in advance to check which injections you will require because sometimes you will need to spread them out.

Carry out your own research as well. You may find that some areas of a country are affected by a disease like malaria, whereas other areas remain risk free.

Essentially, never go anywhere without researching first. That way at least you can make an informed decision about whether to go or not, and you will know about the key risks to avoid and the medication and vaccinations you will need.

Research regional hazards

Are there areas of the country to avoid? Or even areas of the city that have a bad reputation? Is crime high in certain neighbourhoods? Find out in advance and take the appropriate precautions.

If the country is dangerous, your insurance provider may not cover you for that destination. Check the Foreign Office travel advice to find out in advance what the risks are.

Pack your medications

Go to your doctor in advance and make sure you have all the medications you will require for your time overseas. Write down details of them, take photos of them and take a copy of your prescription with you in case you lose them.

How will your trip be affected if you fall ill?

If you go on holiday, getting ill is a frustration. However, if you are travelling on business, it could make the whole trip an expensive disaster. For example, you may be presenting an important new product to clients that could have a huge impact on your business.

You should therefore make a contingency plan should you fall ill or become injured. Find out if your insurance covers the cost of sending a colleague in your place, as well as how much is covered. Then make sure there is someone in the office who will be available should something occur to you during the trip so that they can effectively remain on standby.

A word on visas

As well as health-related safety, you will also want to avoid problems with the authorities, so you should find out about visas in advance. If you are conducting business, you may need a special visa before you travel.

Sometimes you can travel on a tourist visa if you are simply holding a meeting with clients, but not always. It all depends on the territory you are travelling to.

Always find out in advance to avoid problems by checking with the embassy of the destination country located in the UK. It may take months to get a visa for some destinations, so never leave it to the last moment.

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Business travel resources

There are plenty of business travel resources that you can read online. Here is a selection of some that you may find useful, but this is by no means a definitive list:

Business travel websites and magazines

As well as the above resources, there are also many websites and magazines related to business travel. Some to check out include:

  • Entrepreneur.com, which provides many articles related to business travel on topics like airlines, gadgets, restaurants and more;
  • BTNews, where you can find all the latest news related to business travel updated all the time;
  • Business Traveller, which is packed with news, city guides and more, including a newsletter you can sign up to;
  • Buying Business Travel, an excellent magazine featuring news, events, features and a forum.

Research before you go

The above resources can all help you to plan your trip. But keep your eyes open for other resources because there are many other places to read up about business travel.

For example, national newspapers often publish useful features on business travel, like this article in The Guardian.

Business-related websites like BusinessWeek also regularly publish articles on business travel like this one.

You may also want to visit country-specific forums where you can often get access to the latest details from people living within the countries, and these can be a great resource for research.

Finally, if you have questions relating to business travel insurance, please get in contact with us at Bengo Travel – we will be more than happy to help.