All posts tagged insurance

Drug Use Skyrockets among American Workers

Tableau of drugs- pills, coke, marijuana, and alcohol.

Drug use is rapidly increasing among American workers, as more states liberalize marijuana laws, cocaine makes a resurgence and more people abuse amphetamines and heroin.

A new study by Quest Diagnostics Inc., a workplace drug-testing lab, found that the number of workers testing positive for illicit drugs is higher than at any time in the last 12 years.

That puts employers in a tricky predicament, particularly if employees are using at work, which could reduce productivity and also make them more susceptible to workplace injuries since they may not be as focused as they should be on their work.

In 2016, 4.2% of the 8.9 million urine drug tests that Quest conducted for employers turned up positive, compared to 4% in 2015 and 3.5% in 2011. The rate was the highest since 2004, when 4.5% of tests showed evidence of potentially illicit drug use.

While there were marked increases in positive tests for most illicit drugs, the surprising excption was prescription opioids like hydrocodone and oxycodone, thanks o stricter enforcement in many jurisdictions around the country.

Marijuana is the most commonly used drug among U.S. workers and was identified in 2.5% of all urine tests for the general workforce in 2016, up from 2.4% a year earlier. In oral fluid testing, which detects recent drug use, marijuana positivity increased nearly 75%, from 5.1% in 2013 to 8.9% in 2016.

The highest increases for marijuana usage among workers seemed to be in states that have recently legalized the recreational use of marijuana.

The number of workers testing positive in Colorado rose 11%, while in Washington there was a 9% increase. The rates of increase were more than double the increase nationwide in 2016.


Changes in test-positives by drug:

  • Amphetamine: Up 8%
  • Marijuana: Up 4.2%
  • Heroin: Zero (after 146% increase in four years prior)
  • Oxycodone: Down 4%
  • Cocaine: Up 12%



Implications for businesses

About 12% of workers who die on the job test positive for drugs or alcohol in their system at the time of the incident. And incidentally, one OSHA study found that the most dangerous occupations, like construction and mining, also have the highest drug use rates among workers.

Employers suffer from hiring substance abusers in many ways. Not only do they run the risk of having deadly or dangerous accidents occur, but substance abusers also cost employers money in other ways, including poor productivity and decision-making.

Substance abusers may:

  • Have poor work performance.
  • Frequently call in sick or arrive late.
  • Frequently change workplaces.
  • Struggle with productivity.
  • Injure themselves or others at work.


The takeaway

If you’re concerned, you can initiate an effective workplace drug program that includes drug testing before hiring and during employment – and the consequences for violating the rules.

You should have in place rules for working while under the influence and the ramifications for doing so.

You may also want to consider an employee assistance program for employees who feel they may have a problem, as well as for those who feel they’re developing a problem. A quality assistance program will offer services such as counseling to deal with substance abuse problems.

You may also want to consider holding meetings about health and safety and drug use. Provide education about what addiction looks like and why people begin to abuse drugs/alcohol. Education can help employees understand how to support those that are struggling, as well as remove negative stereotypes often associated with addiction.

Provide health benefits that offer a more “comprehensive coverage” for addiction. This includes addiction assessment (screening), treatment, aftercare and counseling.


Court Decision Shows Extent of Employer Liability for Traveling Employees

Frying Egg Roll

The employer of a worker who causes damage during their off hours on a business trip may be held liable for them acting “in the scope of their employment,” according to a federal court decision.

The ruling will allow the case to go forward after the court declined to uphold the employer’s motion to dismiss it as a defendant in the lawsuit after its employee had caused $147,000 in damage to a hotel room while on a business trip. The employee fell asleep while frying egg rolls on the stovetop in his room, after which a fire broke out.

The case illustrates the importance of having policies in place for traveling workers in order to reduce your company’s liability when they are on a trip on your behalf.

Lloyd’s of London paid for the original damage but later sued the worker and his employer, FlightSafety International Inc., to collect the damages. Lloyd’s says that by virtue of the fact that he was on a business trip, the man was acting within the scope of his employment when he started the fire.

Hence, FlightSafety is also liable for the damages to the Residence Inn in Wichita, Kansas.

In making its case, Lloyd’s said that FlightSafety had a contract for its employees to stay with the hotel chain. “The entire purpose of defendant Foster’s trip was business on behalf of defendant FlightSafety,” Lloyd’s wrote in its complaint.

The court said that it was not yet clear if the worker was acting outside the scope of his employment and that that fact needs to be tried at the trial court level.

The decision sends the case back to the trial court for hearing.


<B>The takeaway</b>

It’s quite common for employees to engage in risky behavior when on business trips. On Call International in a 2015 survey of 1,000 business travelers found that:

  • 27% of respondents admitted to binge drinking while on work-related trips, and
  • 11% said they had picked up a stranger at a bar while traveling for their jobs.


With these findings in mind and in light of this decision, employers should keep in mind that other courts have also found them liable when their workers are driving during their off hours while on a business trip, say going out to dinner on their own.

While responsibility ultimately falls on the business traveler to act in a responsible and safe manner, employers should establish appropriate parameters and rules and be clear about the expectations it has of its employees while they are out representing the organization.

Rating Bureau Recommends Benchmark Rate Decrease for California Employers

abacus chinese

IN A SURPISE move, the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau of California has filed a recommendation to reduce average baseline rates on policies by 7.8% at the mid-year mark.

The mid-year reduction to the baseline rate is largely the result of reforms that were introduced in 2013 that have sped up the settlement process for claims (including many long-term claims), in addition to reducing medical costs.

Also, because of these reforms the cost of adjusting workers’ comp claims in California has dropped over the past few years.

Insurance carriers use the benchmark rate – also known as the pure premium rate – as a starting point for pricing their policies.

The benchmark rate is an average across all industries and employers may or may not see decreases in their workers’ comp premium come renewal as many other factors are at play, not the least of which is the employer’s own safety history.

Region is also important and insurers are pricing policies for Southern California employers higher than for the rest of the state due to the continuing problem of cumulative trauma claims being filed by workers post-termination, mostly in the greater Los Angeles area.

“Cumulative injury claims often involve multiple injuries [that have developed over time], are very frequently litigated, are filed disproportionately in the Los Angeles Basin and often are filed on a post-termination basis,” the Rating Bureau stated in a report on the state of the market as of Dec. 31, 2016.

Indeed, while cumulative trauma claims accounted for just 8% of all claims in 2005, in 2015 they comprised 18% of all claims, according to the Bureau.

The state insurance commissioner sets the benchmark rate with guidance from the Rating Bureau. A hearing will be held in June, after which the commissioner can choose to approve the rate filing, reject it or set another rate that’s either higher or lower than that recommended by the Bureau.

The rate filing is 7.8% less than the approved pure premium rate for policies incepting on or after Jan. 1, 2017. It recommends an average advisory pure premium rate of $2.02 per $100 of payroll. That’s compared with $2.19 per $100 of payroll as of Jan. 1.

The pure premium rate is a reflection of an overall decline in the total cost of claims thanks to SB 869, legislation that was signed into law in 2013.

By addressing numerous cost drivers it has helped reduce medical costs, expedite claims settlements, and reduced the frequency of workers’ compensation claims. The legislation also increased benefits for some injured workers.

As a result, the average projected ultimate cost of a claim increased to $82,234 at the end of 2016, compared to $74,699 in 2013.

Rising average payouts for wage losses and medical costs per claim are both contributing to average claim cost increases, according to Rating Bureau data.

Venturing Abroad? Your Liability Policy May Not Cover You


There may be the occasion when you have to send executives or a team overseas for work. And depending on the destination, the risks will vary – more in some countries and less in others.

Other factors that come into play include the number and age of your staff working overseas and what type of activities they will engage in when they are on their work assignment.

First off, your current liability insurance may cover the basics if your staff are there on a short-term assignment. For example, if one of them injures someone while driving a car in the country, your liability policy would likely cover the damages.

But if you are selling your service and products there of if you have a representative office there, you may need the enhanced coverage of a foreign liability insurance policy.

According to International Risk Management Institute, foreign liability insurance is:

“A specialty policy for an insured’s liability for foreign operations arising out of a permanent branch office, manufacturing facility, or other operation located in another country. The commercial general liability (CGL) policy provides coverage for incidental exposures – for example, when an executive (or group of employees)… occasionally travels overseas for business trips. For permanent operations in foreign countries, a separate foreign liability policy is required.”


Why purchase foreign general liability coverage

Your existing corporate liability plan may not cover you for legal expenses and lawsuits brought in overseas courts. Travel to foreign countries brings with it a number of challenges, including corrupt officials, crime, and unfamiliar laws, languages and customs.

Organizations from the U.S. have no protection if they are taken to international court, so protect yours with a good foreign liability plan.



Who needs the coverage?

You may want to consider foreign liability insurance if you:

  • Have employees or volunteers who travel outside the U.S.
  • Own or lease vehicles outside the U.S./Canada.
  • Export goods or services.
  • Have or transport property outside the U.S. or Canada, including at foreign trade shows.
  • Outsource work to subcontractors who are domiciled outside the U.S. and Canada.
  • Own or operate locations, such as sales offices or call centers, outside the U.S. and Canada.
  • Station American workers at foreign offices and/or employ third-country or local nationals.


What is covered in a foreign liability policy?

Such policies provide coverage for:

  • Legal expenses for lawsuits brought against your organization in overseas courts.
  • Criminal charges brought against your staff by foreign officials.
  • General liability brought against your company for injuries or damages resulting from the use of your product or service.
  • Emergency assistance services.
  • Automobile liability.
  • Directors & officers liability.
  • Accident and health.
  • Fiduciary liability.
  • Excess liability.
  • Professional errors and omissions liability.
  • Environmental impairment liability.
  • Aircraft/watercraft liability.
  • Patent infringement.


Ransomware Becomes Biggest Cyber Threat Facing Businesses


Ransomware is turning out to be the biggest cyber threat facing companies in 2017 after attacks more than quadrupled in 2016 from the year prior, according to a new study.

If you are not familiar with this fast-evolving cyber threat, typically the perpetrators will essentially lock down your database and/or computer system and make it unusable, then demand that you pay a ransom to unlock the system.

The “Beazley Breach Insights Report January 2017” highlights a massive and sustained increase in ransomware attacks.

Another report, the “2017 SonicWall Annual Threat Report,” found that cyber criminals are shifting their attention from malware and other types of threat to ransomware – as evidenced by a significant decline in the former types of attack and a dramatic increase in the latter.

Here’s what SonicWall saw in 2016:

  • Unique malware attacks fell to 60 million from 64 million in 2015, down 6.25%.
  • Total malware attack attempts fell to 7.87 billion from 8.2 billion, down 4%.
  • Ransomware attacks exploded to 638 million attempts in 2016 from 3.8 million in 2015, up a massive 166 times!

SonicWall’s report estimates that around $209 million in ransoms was paid in the first quarter of 2016 alone.

“It would be inaccurate to say the threat landscape either diminished or expanded in 2016 – rather, it appears to have evolved and shifted,” said Bill Conner, president and CEO of SonicWall. “Cybersecurity is not a battle of attrition; it’s an arms race, and both sides are proving exceptionally capable and innovative.”

The unprecedented growth of ransomware was likely driven as well by easier access in the underground market, the low cost of conducting a ransomware attack, the ease of distributing it and the low risk of being caught or punished.

Ransomware is also growing in both sophistication and type of attack, and the hackers are proving to be inventive in how they can cripple your business enough to elicit the ransom.

When you are most vulnerable

And there are some times that businesses are more susceptible than others in being targeted for an attack.

“Organizations appear to be particularly vulnerable to attacks during IT system freezes, at the end of financial quarters and during busy shopping periods,” the report states. “Evolving ransomware variants enable hackers to methodically investigate a company’s system, selectively lock the most critical files, and demand higher ransoms to get the more valuable files unencrypted.”

Ransomware enters a company’s system in a variety of ways.

The most common method is when an employee clicks on a link in a bogus e-mail that opens the door to malicious code to start rifling through your systems. But more often, an employee unintentionally clicks on a link or sends information.

The types of attack will vary from industry to industry.

How Ransomware Infiltrates 

  • Hack or malware: 40%
  • Insider: 7%
  • Unintended disclosure 28%
  • Physical loss: 6%
  • Portable device: 6%
  • Other/unknown: 9%

Source: Beazley Plc (numbers for financial services industry)

Horror stories

  • Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles paid $17,000 in bitcoin to regain access to its data in February 2016.
  • Lansing Board of Water & Light paid ransomware attackers $25,000 after they had paralyzed the company’s information system in April 2016.
  • A four-star hotel in the Austrian Alps paid 1,500 euros (about $1,600) in bitcoin after ransomware had locked up the computer running the hotel’s electronic key lock system, leaving guests unable to enter their rooms.

Revisit Risk Response Plans in Light of Emerging Threats


There’s a lot going on in the world and the risks are changing and evolving rapidly, making it difficult for many companies to adjust and manage the risks they face effectively.

Some risks that barely registered a decade ago now pose serious challenges to many businesses. There are novel technological risks with new threats constantly arising in the cyber world, economic and market volatility, terrorism, regulatory and legal challenges, supply chain vulnerability and political uncertainty.

These risks can all be real for any business and it’s important that you and your manager sit down and try to identify the potential threats that could affect your operation, assess their likelihood and how your organization can reduce the effects of these events.

By understanding potential risks to your business and finding ways to minimize their impacts, you can ensure that your company recovers quickly after an incident.

Of course, risks vary from business to business and across industries, so there is no one-size-fits-all risk management plan. However, the methods for identifying risks and making a management plan are the same.

This guide outlines the steps involved in preparing a risk management plan and a business impact analysis for your organization.


Identifying risks

The first step in preparing a risk management plan is to identify potential risks to your business. This will help you develop appropriate strategies for dealing with them.

This stage requires thinking outside the box and not looking at the obvious.

  1. Think about your critical business activities, including your key services, resources and staff, and things that could affect them, such as power failures, terrorism, a cyber attack that incapacitates your network, natural disaster and illness.
  2. Brainstorm with staff from various parts of your organization – operations, accounting, legal, logistics and other sections – to identify as many potential risks as possible. Don’t leave anything on the table because it’s too outlandish.
  3. Review your business plan and think about what you couldn’t do without, and what type of incidents could affect these areas.
  4. This includes considering what you would you do if:
  • You lost power supply.
  • You had no access to the Internet.
  • Important documents were destroyed.
  • Your facilities were damaged or you were unable to access them.
  • A key supplier was unable to deliver product to you.
  • The area your business is in was hit by a natural disaster.
  1. Consider the worst-case scenario. This could be the result of several incidents occurring simultaneously or as part of a chain reaction. For example, your cold storage warehouse could lose power, which could cause perishables to spoil, which in turn could lead to your restaurant clients’ customers contacting food poisoning.


Formulating responses

Once you’ve identified risks for your business, you should assess the likelihood that they could occur.

A good strategy is to rank risks based on which ones would cause minor problems, through to major ones that would have to be tackled immediately. You should also try to figure out the likelihood of each of these risks occurring by looking at case studies of your industry.

You should correlate this with the damage each of the risks would do to your business should they occur.

With these factors in mind, you can rank the risks you should address first – and go down the list from there.


Risk management plans

You start by implementing strategies to reduce the chances of your top threats occurring in the first place. You can do this through:

  • Quality control processes
  • Auditing
  • Compliance with legislation
  • Staff training
  • Regular maintenance
  • Changing procedures


Next you should formulate responses that you can implement quickly after an incident, such as:

  • Emergency procedures
  • Off-site data backup and storage
  • Identifying alternate suppliers
  • Risk transfer, like outsourcing
  • Cross-training staff so that more than one person knows how to do a certain task
  • Keeping old equipment after it is replaced so you have backup, and practicing doing things manually in case your computer networks or other equipment can’t be used


Secure proper insurance

If you have concerns about any of the risks you have identified and are unsure whether your current insurance would cover them, you should call us.

Here are a few insurance solutions to common risks:

  • Coverage for the loss of income if customers affected by the crisis stop ordering your product or service
  • Coverage for loss of your customers’ goods or materials
  • Coverage to replace lost income if one of your suppliers is hit by a crisis and can’t deliver product to your firm


FMLA, FLSA Lawsuits Surge, Exposing Employers to Large Awards


The number of employee lawsuits against employers for Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and wage and hour violations has skyrocketed in the last five years and your firm could be the next target even for a small misstep, which can be costly.

The Department of Labor has increased its budget and the number of investigators pursuing employers who violate the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which covers wage and hour complaints, including exempt and non-exempt employee violations, overtime violations and similar issues.

Employment law attorneys say that the surge in FMLA complaints is a result of more people knowing about the law as the DOL has expanded its reach and publicized the act in press releases about actions it has taken against various employers.

Also, they say, the term “serious health condition” is broadly defined, making it easy for employees to satisfy.

Here we take a look at the problem and what you can do to avoid being sued.



Wage and hour lawsuits are typically filed under the Fair Labor Standards Act, and they’ve been creeping up, a trend employment lawyers attribute to more people working from home and technology, which has blurred the lines between when workers are on or off the clock.


FLSA cases filed:

Fiscal 2015: 8,160

Fiscal 2014: 7,500


Notable FLSA settlements from last decade:

Walgreens – $23 million

Wells Fargo – $15 million

Roto-Rooter – $14.2 million


What you need to know:

  • There are four main areas you need to be concerned with: minimum wage, overtime pay, record-keeping and youth employment.
  • Make sure you properly classify your employees as non-exempt or exempt (the minimum salary to be classified as exempt is currently $47,476 a year).
  • There are six exempt positions: executive, administrative, learned professional, creative professional, computer professional and outside sales staff.
  • Track exempt employees’ hours just in case.
  • Compute overtime properly.
  • Telecommuting can expose you to FLSA liability when employees work or send work-related e-mails outside normal working hours.
  • Employees must be compensated for time spent answering e-mails during off hours, including vacation.



Qualifying reasons for FMLA leave, according to the DOL, include: birth of a child; a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform their work functions; and to care for a spouse, child or parent with a serious health condition.

The rapid rise in FMLA lawsuits is a direct result of the law becoming increasingly complex for employers to navigate, and its increased enforcement. The number of FMLA cases filed last year hit 1,108, almost a fourfold increase from the 280 that were filed in 2012.


FLMA cases filed:

2014: 1,108

2013: 877


Notable settlements or awards:

Staples Inc. – $275,000

Solvay Chemical – $1.5 million

Christ Hospital and Medical Center – $11.6 million


What you need to know

  • Post and distribute information about employees’ FMLA rights and include it in your employee handbook.
  • Don’t retaliate against someone seeking FMLA leave.
  • Develop an internal process for employees to use when applying for FMLA leave.
  • Make sure managers and supervisors apply your FMLA process consistently.
  • Be careful to balance any pushback against the employee, but you have the right to ask for more information from the employee and their doctor. And you can monitor the use of FMLA days.

Filing Late and Other Ways to Have Your Claim Rejected


One of the biggest mistakes you can make if you incur damage to your business premises is to wait too long before filing the claim with your insurer.

The owners of Dallas Plaza Hotel learned this the hard way last month when a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held that the business had waited too long to file a claim with its insurer after suffering hail damage in July 2009.

The court ruled that because the hotel had waited more than 19 months to file the claim, it was impossible for the insurer, American Insurance Co., to ascertain exactly when the damage had occurred.

The hotel’s property policy required that the insured make “prompt notice” of any claims.

American Insurance rejected the claim when it received it in October 2011, saying that there had been so many hailstorms in the area before and after July 2009 that it could not determine what caused the damage or when the damage occurred and, specifically, whether it had occurred within the policy period, which expired in September 2009.

Believe it or not, this is a common problem for businesses and the lesson from this case is that you should inform the insurer as soon as possible after incurring damage that may be covered by your insurance policy.

It is one of many mistakes business owners make in filing claims. The following are surefire ways to risk having your claim denied or disputed by your insurance company:


  1. Not contacting your insurer immediately. Many business owners fail to contact the insurer on time and risk a situation similar to that experienced by the hotel in Dallas.
  2. Failing to document the damage. Take pictures and itemize everything that was damaged. Often, you will have to make repairs immediately to prevent additional damage, or move machinery to a new location. If so, be sure to photograph the original scene to document how it was before you started your clean-up effort. Also take photos of any repairs you make.
  3. Not keeping damaged goods. If your business clean-up includes removal of items such as water-damaged merchandise, flooring or insulation, keep it all, even if it has to pile up in the parking lot. The damaged materials are all evidence of the impact of the disaster on your business.
  4. Not appealing an insurer’s low estimate of damage. After the claims adjuster inspects the damage the insurance company will give you a damage estimate. If you think it’s too low, you can appeal. We can help you if you feel the estimate is too low.
    Some businesses will hire an outside adjuster to make a second estimate and then the claim will go to mediation for a final resolution.
  5. Not reading your policy. You should understand exactly what your policy covers. For the most part, commercial property policies will not cover flooding or earthquake damage. That kind of coverage will often require a separate policy or rider.
  6. Not being prepared. If your business has suffered damage, you’ll be better off if you know what to do in advance. Some advance steps you can take are:
  • Reviewing your policy to make sure you have adequate coverage.
  • Knowing where your insurance policy is kept.
  • Keeping an extra copy of the policy off premises or in a safety deposit box.
  • Having our telephone number and e-mail address in the contacts on your smart phone, so you can call us immediately if you suffer a claim.

PTSD Claims a Growing Workers’ Comp Problem


An emerging trend in workers’ compensation nationally is workers filing post-traumatic stress disorder claims from events that they experienced on the job.

These events will typically be something traumatic like witnessing a violent event while on the job or the aftermath of a horrific accident – but not always.

Most recently, the Connecticut Supreme Court held that a Federal Express Corp. driver diagnosed with PTSD in part due to his manager’s demands and stress of a really bad day is eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. In that case, William D. Hart vs. Federal Express Corp. et al., the court upheld 47 weeks of temporarily total disability that had been awarded by the state’s Workers’ Compensation Review Board.

Increasingly, insurers have been denying these claims only to be thwarted by workers’ compensation appeals boards or higher courts when the cases are appealed. Courts are increasingly siding with workers and awarding them disability benefits.

For the most part, PTSD claims are filed by police officers or other first responders, but increasingly, employees that witness a violent crime or a horrific accident while on the job are starting to file workers’ comp PTSD claims.

Many states, but not all, allow workers’ compensation claims based on PTSD. In order to qualify for benefits, a worker must have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event while acting in the scope of employment, and then suffer PTSD symptoms that interfere with the ability to work.

Examples of work-related PTSD claims

Some examples of workplace situations that might give rise to a PTSD claim are:

  • A police officer, firefighter or emergency medical technician responds to a horrific or gruesome situation.
  • A construction worker observes a co-worker’s serious injury or death.
  • A teacher witnesses a school shooting.


The individual must also receive a formal diagnosis of PTSD from a psychiatrist or psychologist.


PTSD symptoms can include:

  • Flashbacks
  • Heightened startle response
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Cognitive decline
  • Nightmares
  • Physical symptoms such as headaches, ulcers, nausea and fatigue


In many cases, PTSD symptoms may not appear until months or even years after the trauma. Many claimants say the symptoms are so severe that they cannot perform their jobs properly, and they may take long periods off from work.


Defending PTSD claims

Under workers’ compensation regulations:

  • The employment must be the “predominant cause” of the employee’s claim.
  • The claim must not arise from a “good-faith personnel issue.”
  • Psychiatric injuries can arise from a specific, traumatic, event-triggering PTSD.
  • Psychiatric injury can be compensable if the worker has a serious physical disability and has been employed at least six months.


If you are faced with a stress or PTSD claim, Safety National Insurance Co. recommends that:

  • When you receive the first report, reach out and communicate to the injured worker immediately. Sometimes the issue may be a misunderstanding or they may just want someone to care.
  • Be proactive, not reactive, with trauma cases. If this is a situation that would cause you traumatic stress, it is probably causing the injured worker traumatic stress.
  • You consider your “confirmation bias” and other biases when collecting statements.
  • You document reactions to personnel actions.



Protect Your Traveling Employees Through Planning, Training

businessman at airport

If you have employees who travel as part of their job, your business has a duty to safeguard them when on the road.

When on the road both domestically and abroad, accidents and other unforeseen events can occur that can put your employee at risk … from a bush crash in a Madrid to coming down with severe gastrointestinal pains in Mumbai.

Meanwhile, political risk is increasing daily, and so is the threat of terrorism, as evidenced by the spate of incidents in Paris, Brussels and San Bernardino.

The duty of care is on the part of the employer that sends its workers on business trips domestically and overseas. They need to ensure that their employees are prepared, trained and safe for these travel assignments.

You can follow these tips to protect your road warriors, which were outlined in a white paper on the subject by Lisbeth Claus, professor of global human resources at Willamette University’s Atkinson Graduate School of Management in Portland, Oregon:


Implement a travel management plan – If you are sending an employee to a new destination, particularly one that may be considered high risk, you should consider giving them a security briefing before they leave. They should be given information on the dangers that they may face in a particular location – from pickpockets and muggings in some large U.S. cities, to kidnapping in South America by a hood masquerading as a taxi driver.

The plan should cover the following areas:

  • Awareness of potential dangers – The employee should be given information on the dangers of the location that he or she is traveling to. Risks vary from location to location, including terrorism or food-borne illnesses.
  • Don’t have a routine – This is especially true in countries where crime and kidnappings are rampant. It’s recommended by security experts that employees on temporary or long-term assignments abroad don’t do the same thing every day. They can take a different route to their work site every day, visit different lunch places and take a taxi one day and a bus another.
  • Don’t draw attention to yourself – Advise your traveling employees to keep a low profile. Don’t wear expensive jewelry or watches or any items with American flags on them. It’s best not to stand out, and they should try to dress like others do in the area to the best extent possible.
  • Stay in touch – You should require that employees traveling in new places check in with a designated company contact on a daily basis, preferably in the morning and upon returning to the hotel in the evening.
  • Think security – There are many simple things a traveling employee can do when on the road to increase their protection, from not straying off main streets at night or in unknown parts of town, to using the deadbolt and swing lock on their hotel doors at all times.


Essentially, you need to:

  • Assess risks – Understand dangers at locations where employees will be assigned or will visit most frequently. Analyze how job functions expose workers to risks.
  • Plan – Determine if your organization is meeting its duty-of-care obligations. Create policies and find resources necessary to meet these obligations.
  • Train – Educate employees about travel dangers and how to react to emergencies while abroad.
  • Track – Know where each employee will be at any given time.
  • Assist – Establish a mechanism to communicate with employees at any time and to provide assistance as needed.



Even if you take precautions, there is still a chance that something can go wrong. That’s why there is kidnapping, ransom and extortion insurance for traveling workers.

You can also purchase a security evacuation and pandemic disease rider to attach to that type of policy.

Other available coverages include:

  • Foreign voluntary workers’ compensation insurance
  • Global medical assistance services


Finally, many insurance companies and brokers have also created country and city risk ratings, which are available on line. They are worth a look if you have traveling workers.