Travel Insurance for Business Travel – Free?

Travel Insurance

Many people may consider Travel Insurance to be an instrument sold by peddlers of doom. That indeed is a matter of personal opinion. Personally, I think Travel Insurance is a necessary part of every trip. It provides the traveller with a certain amount of comfort, and more – especially when things go wrong.

Travel Insurance for Business travellers

Many companies seem to ignore Insurance for Business Travel. They care about corporate regulations that are mandatory: workmans’ compensation, fire, office premises, etc. They appear to be more important. Insurance for Business Travel seems to often takes it’s place, at the bottom of the list. I have often wondered why. Should an official trip go wrong, the implications and impact can be quite serious. Think about the signing of a business deal that could impact the launch of a new programme for the company; or a baggage delay, that unnecessarily requires an employee to buy a new suit for a special award ceremony. There could be that important demonstration item that was in the checked baggage that did not arrive, causing unnecessary extension of the trip. All of the above could result in additional expenses that will have to be borne by the company. In every such event, had Travel Insurance been available, needless expenditure could have been saved.

What Travel Insurance programmes are available?

Having established the need for Travel Insurance, let us look at what is available. Can you get it free of cost for your Company? YES you canMy first proposal is that you consider purchasing your company’s travel arrangements through a Corporate Purchasing Card

Travel Insurance - © Mano Chandra Dhas
Purchasing Cards from Credit Card Companies

It is also referred to as a Lodged Card, by some Credit Card companies. Not only do such programmes provide your company with attractive credit terms, but they also always come with free insurance. Their programmes insure the traveller against most contingencies. It happens automatically every time a ticket for travel is purchased against the card. As I mentioned earlier, there is no additional charges for travel insurance. It comes as part of the Credit Card services offering. In my past experience, I have offered this facility to several clients of mine, who have always benefitted from the Card programmes. Many have successfully filed claims each year, and received just compensation.

The other alternatives are the following:

  1. A comprehensive company travel insurance policy that covers all the company travellers for a stipulated period – usually a year.
  2. Purchasing Travel insurance every time an employee travels.

The Company Travel Insurance Policy

The first option above will be useful for companies who have many employees regularly travelling.  It is easy to organise.  All you will need to do is to contact an Insurance company.  All major Insurance companies already have such programmes available.  Depending on the number of employees travelling in a year, it will be possible to negotiate the finer points.  Such Insurance programmes are also available through Travel Management Companies (TMC). There will be benefits in purchasing such programmes from TMCs. They would already have negotiated rates that an individual company may not be able to obtain, on the basis of their servicing several large corporate clients. TMCs will almost always possess better negotiating muscles – not just on insurance programmes, but many other services as well.

Individual Travel Insurance Policy

This option may be more suitable for personal travel, as well as Small and Medium Enterprises (SME). It can be bought every time travel tickets are purchased, to cover the trip. It is usually available with Travel Agents.  Needless to say this will indeed be the more expensive option.

One point to note, is that it is always better to buy such Travel Insurance before you leave for the Airport. There was a time, when one could easily pick up such insurance at the Airport.  These days, there are not many airports where such insurance is available.  The reason probably lies in the much higher costs of renting airport office space and lower demand for last minute purchase of Travel Insurance. Having said that, I must mention that you will find vending machines that sell Travel Insurance in some airports.

Internet Travel Purchases

Insurance programmes can also be purchased over the Internet. They are available through Insurance Company websites; and today, most carriers offer Insurance when travel is purchased online, as well. You can add Travel Insurance at the click of a button. With Airlines however, you will do well to check that the programme does indeed cover the whole trip and not just the flights. 

When it comes to Travel Insurance, should one read the small print?

The answer is a definite YES. Travel Insurance programmes are so different one from the other, that not all of them will cover your every need. Some Insurance programmes may come with a maximum cap for compensation when it comes to baggage loss, or medical emergencies. Compensation can be as varied as there are Travel Insurance programmes.  Even experienced Travel Agents or Advisors may not be able to advise you on which package is best for you. Therefore, you must read the small print.

Let me give you an example from my personal experience. The last time I travelled from Colombia to the USA, not having the opportunity to purchase insurance over the Internet for the trip, I was glad when I saw an Insurance Desk at Bogota’s El Dorado International Airport. I almost always travel with expensive photography gear which is the main reason I purchase insurance. I walked over to a rather sleepy looking lady (it was very early in the morning) to purchase my insurance. Sensing I was not a Colombian national, she responded to say that she only had insurance for local residents. Then, after proving to her that I was a resident of the country and going over her list (which was not very extensive), of insurance packages, I chose what I thought was appropriate. She proceeded to issue the policy. As she was handing over the document to me, I asked her whether it would cover my personal belonging during the whole period that I was travelling. Her response was, “No, it only covers life.” For me the policy had little, or no value. It was too late however at that point, to cancel the transaction. Lesson: always read the fine print!

What contingencies does Travel Insurance cover?

Travel Insurance packages cover many probable contingencies for your whole trip; from the time you leave your residence, until you get back. They would normally cover, baggage delay or loss, damage to personal property, inordinate flight delays, flight cancellations, curtailment, trip interruptions, accidents (wherever that may happen during a trip, and not necessarily just air), medical emergencies, mugging, life etc. There will also usually be some exclusions. These may include war, pre-existing medical conditions, elective surgery or treatment, and injury or illness caused by alcohol or drug abuse.

It is important to remember that an official complaint or report will be required at the time of filing a claim. For instance, if you were filing a claim for baggage loss, then the Insurance company will need a copy of the Property Irregularity report (PIR), issued by the Airline. If emergency medical attention was utilised, then the hospital discharge certificate will be needed. Of course, this is just plain common sense: if one is making a claim, then one would have to prove the loss, damage, or other related occurrence, or expenditure. It must also be noted that one can usually only be compensated once for a particular item, regardless of the number of Travel Insurances a traveller may have covering a particular journey. In other words, one cannot have compensatory settlements from two insurance companies, for the loss of one item of baggage.

Conclusion

In conclusion, my personal advice to travellers is to always ensure you have Travel Insurance. They are designed to cover short trips or long ones; and, most importantly, every probable contingency. In some cases, they even cover money upto a certain amount. When it comes to business travel, I would very strongly recommend Travel Insurance.

© Mano Chandra Dhas

Note – Should you have any comments or queries, please do use the comment box here below. I will respond to every comment within a reasonable period of time.  I’d also be delighted if you share this blog with contacts of yours who may benefit from it’s contents.  Please use one of the share buttons on the left margin to share.

Author: Mano Chandra Dhas

Principal Consultant and Managing Partner, of Coromandel SAS, Mano Chandra Dhas, has over 40 years of experience in front-line Travel. It includes experience in India, Bahrain, The United Arab Emirates, Middle East and West Asia. Fourteen of those years were spent with Airlines (Singapore Airlines and Alitalia); the remainder, with travel Agencies: Kanoo Travel, Thomas Cook, Dnata - HRG (Emirates Airlines Group) and Carlson Wagonlit Travel, UAE. He spent 35 years of his working life in the Arabian Gulf, where set up BTI Middle East and West Asia (known today as HRG Middle East and West Asia) in 14 countries, for Dnata, the Regional Managing Partner. He managed the Corporate Travel Division of Dnata for over 10 years. As Country Manager of CWT United Arab Emirates, he managed a throughput of over 100 million US Dollars per annum. During his involvement in Travel Management in the Gulf, he personally interacted with several major multinational companies in the Region; he has been involved with international Travel consolidations. Mano also managed the Dnata Contact Centre with over 150 staff reporting to him. Known for his stolid integrity, his major strengths are Account Management, Relationship Management and Service Delivery. Mano now lives in Bogotá, the capital city of Colombia.

2 thoughts on “Travel Insurance for Business Travel – Free?”

  1. Mano how are you? Trust all is well and life is treating you and Amanda well. Quite an interesting read.

    Question I have for you is – similar to the corporate insurance card, is there a facility available for individuals…i.e.. can I buy and travel insurance card for Sonia and myself that will cover us – say for 1-year or if its cheaper to buy for longer periods, perhaps for a 3-year period that covers us globally, including US and Canada with an option of activation the USA and Canada (when required only by paying an additional premium perhaps?)

    We normally purchase travel insurance before we travel just for the days we travel and normally from AXA but thankfully have never had to cash in or claim it. I`ve heard of horrendous stories of people who have to claim there losses and have such barriers and hassles to make and claim reimbursements.

    Would you recommend a good travel insurance organization that will facilitate ease in claims without hassles (if required) and also one that we an buy and annual travel insurance thats not too pricy?

    Many thanks,
    Amal

    1. Hi Amal! We are well. Good to hear from you – always. Yes, multi-trip insurance policies are available from most of the players in this segment. There was a time when I always used Norwich Winterthur. Now, in the days of mergers and acquisitions, much has happened. AXA whom you mention, is a pretty reliable company. Allianz is a German company, and has always had a good reputation. If both Sonia and you travel several times each year, it may well be worth looking at the multi-trip product. You can actually check for the information online.

      When I managed HRG and later, CWT UAE, we filed several claims each month for our clients, with Card companies under their Lodged Card programmes. They usually settled the claims in full, and promptly. I wonder what your horrendous stories are! There are many Gulf agents who sell inexpensive Insurance packages for Visa purposes. These only cover the basic requirements of the Consular Agency issuing the visa. They do not have comprehensive or extensive cover that we may need. Travellers may indeed think they are buying comprehensive cover, and later find that it did not cover all their needs.

      Usually, the air segments are the least of a traveller’s worries. Air travel fortunately, is still the safest way to travel. It is almost always the other areas of cover that one should be concerned about. I refer to items like Baggage loss or delay, trip curtailment, medical cover, mugging, etc. To ensure you get optimum cover, you will just have to go through the fine print. There really is no way around that. When you deal with a smaller or local insurance companies, you will always need to check who underwrites their policies. If they are backed by reputed companies like Lloyds or Allianz, you should not have any problems with your claims. You most probably will pay for your travel tickets with a Credit Card. This normally automatically activates insurance cover, even for individual travel (I am sure you know that from your HSBC days). In such a situation, you will do well to check how much of the trip is covered: whether it covers you for the entire trip at all times, or just the air travel segments.

      With regard to your last question, you would do well to check the AXA offer with that of HolidayGuard.

      Cheers!
      Mano

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