Traditional medical insurance coverage extends to employees who travel abroad for work occasionally. But employees taking on humanitarian efforts in unstable countries need more coverage. Here’s what you need to know about international health benefits and how to keep your employees safe.
Mind (All) the Gaps
Most employers provide business travel accident insurance policies that cover injury, dismemberment and death. Some add workers’ compensation, and the exact coverage varies. Business travel accident insurance—alongside a medical policy from Blue Cross Blue Shield, UnitedHealthcare, Cigna or Aetna—may protect employees who travel for a week or two overseas, but it’s not enough for expats living abroad who need emergency medical and security coverage.
Employers first need to understand their existing overseas travel insurance policies—what they have and the extent of protection—and then need to identify the gaps. This can be easier said than done, as it may involve several consultants and contracts across an organization.
A large, international, non-profit client of Corporate Synergies recently expanded its humanitarian efforts, and we needed to boost protection for emergencies and security. First, we examined the organization’s existing insurance policies to understand what they already covered and, more important, what was not covered. We learned that most major medical insurance carriers offer an international component to extend coverage to international medical and dental emergencies, prescription drugs or replacement medications, and medical evacuation. We issued an RFP to carriers and worked with the client to give its employees access to a global network of providers.
Solve for Medical Emergencies
Medical insurance and business travel accident insurance typically cover employees traveling for short periods of time, helping if someone loses a passport or luggage or gets sick. But employees traveling for several weeks or months at a time, especially to unstable countries where there’s political unrest, need better access to medical care and security services. These employees won’t be able to use the socialized medical services that exist in some countries.
Develop a Formal Travel Policy
It’s a good idea to educate employees when they book travel on how to get help if they need it while overseas. Our nonprofit client created a push notification for this purpose. When an employee books travel, the system alerts HR immediately so HR can ensure the individual is aware of all coverage and gets the proper training before leaving for a trip. HR also reminds travelers to download the app, and the company holds seminars to teach travelers how to log in, access providers, add travel details and more.
Review International Policies Frequently