As businesses gear up for fall meetings and conferences, experts stress that business travelers need to take steps now to protect themselves from infectious disease outbreaks, terrorist activities and other potentially life-threatening situations around the globe.
“The Ebola virus in Africa and the chikungunya virus in the Caribbean, as well as terrorist activities in the Middle East, demonstrate the need for employers and their employees to think about personal safety while traveling outside the United States,” said Jim Villa, senior vice president of Chubb Accident & Health. “Employers have a duty of care to their employees who travel. Some prudent companies have relocated business meetings and events to alternative destinations.”
Villa advised all travelers to check the list of travel alerts and warnings from the U.S. Department of State – which now includes Russia, Ukraine, Israel, Thailand, Egypt and Mexico – and from the Centers for Disease Control before they book their trips and pack their bags.
“Whether you are traveling on business or for pleasure, you should be prepared for uprisings flaring up at virtually any moment – even in the safest places,” he said. “You should also know how to get help if you become ill, injured in an accident or are a crime victim.”
Villa also suggests that travelers:
Raise conflict awareness. Inquire about possible political strife in the planned destination. Avoid political demonstrations and other rowdy situations.
Do research. Study the culture of the country and be knowledgeable about native customs to avoid standing out as a tourist or being viewed as disrespectful.
Check health insurance policies. Some policies do not provide money to the insured up front, which could be a problem because many foreign hospitals require large payments before admitting a foreign patient.
Don’t try to be the hero. Don’t attempt to defuse a dispute single-handedly. Contact local authorities for help.