Group travel accident insurance is a relatively inexpensive employee benefit that can help attract and retain good employees, particularly managers and executives who travel domestically and/or internationally. This coverage appeals to employers and employees alike because it covers accidental death and injury while traveling on business anywhere. Besides death and dismemberment benefits, policies typically provide medical payments, temporary disability payments, and coverage for costs associated with repatriating employees from foreign soil.

The broadest type of travel accident insurance provides 24-hour worldwide coverage for both business and pleasure; it can cover almost any kind of accident, 365 days a year. The other type, which is less expensive, is a 24-hour business-only policy: employees are covered only while on business for the company. In general, coverage begins the second employees begin a journey and stays in force until they return to their home or office. Even outside directors can be covered for accidents occurring while traveling to company board meetings.

A broker who specializes in travel accident insurance can design a contract that matches the firm’s risk profile. For instance, 24/7 accidental death and disability coverage may apply to traveling and/or non-traveling employees. Death benefits may go up to $500,000 or higher. Coverage can be extended to an employee’s spouse and children when traveling with the employee on company business or relocating for the employer.

Some carriers also offer weekly indemnity amounts and medical benefits for accidents. Coverage is available for all modes of transportation: ground and air, private and public, and common carriers and private conveyances such as trucks, cars, and aircraft, whether owned by the company, employee, or a third party.

Out-of-country emergency medical coverage on short-term business trips up to 90 days can guarantee admittance to a hospital with a wired deposit to the hospital. Most carriers provide travel assistance services that can include emergency medical evacuations, hospital and provider referrals, prescription replacement, and medical case management and payment arrangements.

Worldwide travel assistance includes help with lost or stolen baggage, lost passport and travel documents, ATM locations, roadside assistance, lawyer referrals and bail bonds.

Security assistance service can include immediate evacuation, 24/7 response services to during an incident, security and safety advisors, global risk analysis and up-to-the minute information on current conditions. 

A policy may cover hijacking and or skyjacking. War risk is an option.

Optional enhancements can include a benefit to a deceased employee’s spouse for professional financial planning and psychological counseling. Other options may include permanent total disability benefits, vocational rehabilitation benefits, and repatriation of remains. Payments may be made in a lump sum or over time.

A child-care benefit provides employees with financial assistance for the care of young children. A college-education benefit helps pay tuition if one of the family’s main income earners is seriously injured or killed. A spouse-training benefit can pay for training in new job skills to employee’s spouse who needs to get a job if the employee is killed or permanently disabled by a travel-related accident.

A burn benefit assures that a burn victim will receive the finest care possible at a premier burn center. A rehabilitation benefit reimburses accident victims who need extensive physical therapy. The adaptive home and vehicle benefit helps newly handicapped accident victims defray the cost adapting their home and/or vehicle. The repatriation-of-remains benefit pays for the return of remains home.  The emergency evacuation benefit applies to an employee who becomes incapacitated and requires an evacuation. And it can pay for repatriation of a sick employee if medical treatment can’t be obtained locally.

Travel accident insurance is a valuable employee benefit that continues to evolve. It has become more complicated—and more crucial—since international terrorism reared its ugly head. With research and expert assistance, you can get the program that fits your organization best at a cost it can afford.

Harry Ennevor is president and CEO of E.G. Bowman Co., Inc.

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