GBTA Study Business Travel Insurance Travel Assistance Services

In a world of ever-increasing risk -- from terror incidents and civil unrest to weather events and natural disasters -- business travelers need all the help they can get on the road. The good news: They appear to be getting it, according to a new study from the GBTA Foundation, the education and research arm of the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA).

Published yesterday in partnership with travel insurance company AIG Travel, the study asked 167 travel managers in North America to assess their companies' risk management policies as they pertain to business travel. It found that over half (53 percent) of travel professionals say their company provides both travel insurance and assistance services to their business travelers.

Furthermore, it found that almost all (95 percent) travel managers agree that such offerings are valuable to employees who take international trips, and that most (76 percent) agree they're valuable for employees who take domestic trips.

"While companies of different size, spend, and scope certainly have varying interests, there is very little difference among them when it comes to concern around traveler safety," said GBTA Foundation Director of Research Kate Vasiloff. "Ensuring the safety and security of business travelers is paramount and travel insurance and assistance services can help protect both employees and the company, assisting in meeting duty-of-care obligations and providing the traveler some peace of mind."

When it comes to specific services, four out of five travel professionals say their companies offer travel advisories (85 percent), including travel health advisories (82 percent), to their business travelers. Offerings like risk management training (41 percent) and GPS tracking of travelers (26 percent) are much less common.

The GBTA Foundation also asked travel professionals about the benefits they get from travel insurance and travel assistance services. Those whose companies offer travel insurance ranked benefits like emergency evacuations as "very important," with 90 percent feeling that way about evacuations due to a medical emergency and 88 percent feeling that way about evacuations due to a security emergency. They ranked travel insurance as only "somewhat important" for uses such as trip delays (2 percent "very important" and 42 percent "somewhat important") or missed connections (4 percent "very important" and 35 percent "somewhat important").

For travel assistance services, medical and security evacuations are considered the most important benefits, with 88 percent and 86 percent of travel professionals, respectively, finding each "very important." These were followed closely by logistical aid such as referrals to a local hospital (75 percent) and help replacing a missing passport (66 percent). Roughly three in five travel professionals said financial assistance like emergency cash transfers and identity theft assistance is important, although less than half say these benefits are "very important" (36 percent and 38 percent, respectively).

"It's no surprise that travel professionals find medical and security services most important, when you consider the world we live in today," said Robert Gallagher, COO of AIG Travel. "However, when it comes to duty of care, these services are not enough. Employees need thorough preparation through education, training, and the routine sharing of relevant and real-time information, especially for those who travel to high-risk areas."

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