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Executive Travel: The Risks Are Real

gettyimages-145073471-compressorBusiness travel has become an integral part of conducting business, and given the travel-related health risks, it’s more essential than ever that companies have a strong travel risk management plan in place. Lack of travel safety protocols can expose the well-being of your most valuable employees and your business in terms of legal, financial and reputational consequences.

The Risks
Executives are generally more at risk for health issues, and frequent travel further increases their exposure to problems. Long-haul travel in particular puts executives at higher risk of stroke, heart attack and other circulatory issues. Travel can also impact their ability to stick with a healthy diet, regular exercise and a normal sleep schedule, all of which can make them more susceptible to falling ill. And when they are on the road, even a simple sinus infection requiring access to medical care and medication can become a nuisance.

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Equally troubling, according to the Merck Manual, one in 30 international travelers will require some form of emergency care. Even destinations considered safe such as Britain and other countries in Europe may not provide the level of medical care needed and expected. For instance, it is estimated that 8% to 12% of patients in the majority of European countries experience medical errors and adverse health events. For example, in 2014, Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, required air evacuation from a cruise ship due to a kidney stone attack. His wellbeing was dependent on the ability to get him off the ship to a location where he could receive the appropriate care.

When You Are Not Prepared
Unfortunately, when a travel medical emergency strikes, companies without a solution in place often rely on the Senior Human Resources professional to help locate quality medical care and handle the situation, without the required knowledge or resources at his or her disposal. The logistics and details of a medical evacuation or other medical emergency can be overwhelming. It can be even more so if the executive is trying to manage it all in a different language and while hampered by cultural barriers. Yet details can make the difference between life and death, or quality of life and lifelong disability. For the company, this creates additional risk and exposure for a highly valued human capital asset.

And in terms of the financial risk, most aren’t aware that traditional domestic health insurance plans typically either limit coverage for out-of-country medical expenses to emergency-related costs or have high deductibles and co-pays for emergency treatment abroad. Many do not cover out-of-country emergency medical transportation in cases of life-threatening illness where medical evacuation may be required. That can get very expensive, very quickly.

Travel Medical Support Program
It is imperative that a company’s strategic leaders have the means necessary to receive the level of care they need, whether at home or during travel. For the best level of protection, companies should provide executives with 24/7 medical coordination, help in qualifying local care providers and medical transportation to a facility of choice where higher standards of care are offered. The program needs to incorporate both domestic and international emergency support that includes “from anywhere to anywhere” medical air evacuation coverage as well as emergency referrals for medical, dental urgent care. Additional services, such as facilitation of medical records and payments, can also prove vital.

Such a program can help the executive and his or her family members be prepared for the unexpected. It can also safeguard the company against the associated risk of extensive travel. With the amount of travel required of top talent, such an investment could prove invaluable to the employee and the employer.

To learn more about a program that includes a travel medical support along with other solutions designed for executives, click here.


  • Interested in learning more? Click here to watch a video.
  • To participate in an informative webinar, “Executive Health, Productivity and Your Bottom Line”, click here.

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