Such new technology offers a 24/7 connection with employees abroad, streamlines the claims process, and can provide critical evidence in the event of an incident
Businesses have a duty of care to protect their employees when they are travelling abroad for work. This can involve anything from insuring against medical emergencies and lost luggage to protecting against more thorny and dangerous risks – pandemics, terrorist attacks and hostage situations.
Risk managers will want to do all they can to mitigate the risks, from prevention plans and business travel briefings to risk transfer. With the right insurance programmes, there is the reassurance of 24/7 support services, evacuation and repatriation help. And, of course, financial compensation to indemnify companies in the event of a claim.
Support at your fingertips
Triggering and managing a claim typically involves questionnaires and forms but many risk professionals see further potential in travel apps: the possibility of using information gleaned from these applications to support claims management.
This is yet to be seen, and the concept would need to comply with data protection laws, but the upshot is, if this were possible, it could transform claims management in the future.
Technology, including apps that can measure data and provide claims trends, could help stakeholders to manage claims and become more efficient at identifying and resolving claims issues
“Technology, including apps that can measure data and provide claims trends, could help stakeholders to manage claims and become more efficient at identifying and resolving claims issues,” says Emmanuel Fabin, insurance manager at TSB.
They could also provide crucial details of a claims incident, says Joe Frederick, operations manager at A2 Global Risk. “Investigations into claims rely on evidence. Apps are designed to geo-locate the user with a high degree of accuracy, and this could be crucial evidence for investigations into terror-related cases.”
Whether this becomes a future functionality or not, there is no doubt that there are several benefits of travel apps, most notably, their contribution to the safety and security of employees. So, it is crucial for employers to encourage all staff to use them. But this can be challenging.
You need buy-in
One approach would be to mandate the use of travel apps as a core requirement for high-risk destinations. “A company has a duty of care to its employees, but equally, that employee has a responsibility to comply with policies that are intended to ensure their well-being,” says Frederick.
“There are companies out there where, for a trip to get signed off by management, particularly to destinations where the threat levels exceed a company’s thresholds, that employee may be required to read a pre-travel brief, go through security awareness training and/or agree to use an app [with geolocation facilities] during their trip,” he adds.
For this approach to work, risk managers need to up their marketing efforts and emphasise the key messages: travel apps are aimed at ensuring their safety and well-being.
A company has a duty of care to its employees, but equally, that employee has a responsibility to comply with policies that are intended to ensure their well-being
Bespoke apps, which provide tailored information to risk managers and HR personnel and other stakeholders, will likely be more popular and better demonstrate to line managers the value of marketing the benefits to travellers. “The key is for insurers to create an interest or desire for travellers to access the app,” says Fabin. “One way to possibly improve take up is to have apps that are tailored to certain criteria for corporate and employee preference.”
Business-wide statistics would, undoubtedly, interest all stakeholders involved in people risks and duty of care: how many employees are travelling at any given time; number of journeys, mode of travel, and hours spent travelling. An overview of potential claims incidents would also be beneficial – delayed flights, lost luggage, or the need of medical assistance, for example.
An easy sell?
“The better the app, the better it will support the organisations delivery of its responsibility to travellers,” says Patrick Smith, global business resilience leader for Deliveroo and director of risk consultancy Acumen Advisory.
He says apps that deliver training, information or advice are an easier sell for HR and risk managers. “The more apps are geared to risk/travel advice and emergency response, the better they will be. Of course, the app needs to be integrated with the way in which employees are managed/supported by the company, too – they are all too often standalone and are not really used by anyone other than the most frequent travellers.”