People risk in international programs
It is often said that the human workforce is a company’s most precious asset. And as companies of all sizes continue to expand, and more employees travel for their jobs, it’s even more important for risk managers to keep a handle on people risks. Companies can protect their people using their accident & health international programme structures, explains Toni Le Pine, senior underwriter and head of retail accident and health UK & Ireland at XL Catlin.
Q. Where does responsibility for ‘people risk’ lie and what can risk managers do to make sure their companies’ programmes are fit for purpose?
A. People risk is increasingly becoming an issue at C-Suite level, and employers have a clear duty of care towards employees stationed abroad or travelling overseas for work. In many companies, people risk does not sit neatly within one department but instead spans several areas. To put together effective people risk management programmes for colleagues travelling overseas, risk managers work with experts in other departments such as human resources, security and business continuity. People risks must be looked at in an holistic manner; with travel risk, for example, it is important to remember that it is not just the financial aspects of travel that need to be managed, but also preparing colleagues for situations that might arise while they are away from home. Learning lessons from the “people risk management cycle” is a vital part of this process. After an event, for example, it is really important to feed lessons back into the people risk management policy – even if things went well. This can give mobile employees and risk managers a better understanding of the risks and how to prepare for them.
Q. What are some of the people risks that mobile employees face and what risk management steps can companies take?
A. The biggest risk stems from mobile colleagues being unprepared for the risks they might face. It is therefore important to make sure that employees are prepared before they travel. For example, employees should be aware of whether it is safe to use local taxis when they arrive at a location. Corporate travel people risk programmes should focus on three types of incident: travellers falling ill or having an accident; or travellers’ wellbeing – be it psychological or physical – being threatened and/or personal possessions being endangered. For each of these potential types of threat, the risk management programme should encompass risk assessments to identify how and where these problems could occur; actions that can be taken to prevent or minimise these risks; and consider the resources and tools needed to manage and respond to them. Security risks vary around the world – and can change both rapidly and within countries and regions. This means that risk management preparation plans need to be dynamic and up-to-date. Employees must also be prepared for emerging risks such as identity theft or cyber-attack. Another important area of risk stems from cultural issues – employees may face difficulties because of their gender, sexuality or religion, for example. Companies should consider pre-trip risk assessments and carry out training for employees before they travel.
Q. What happens if an incident takes place?
A. Incidents do, of course, happen. In those cases, response is key. Insurers work with service providers to put into place a range of response services to help people, both in the immediate aftermath of an incident and over the longer term. Those services can include emergency medical and security assistance, home emergency response, an identity theft helpline, corporate reputation protection, emergency cash advances, lost baggage location, counselling and emotional support, online doctor appointments, emergency communication and family liaison. After a violent incident and theft, for example, crisis response experts provide liaison between the victim and the risk manager, local law enforcement, medical experts and others. Services such as emergency accommodation, close protection and vehicles can be provided, where needed.
Q. Can these risks be managed within an international programme?
A. These people risks can be structured within international programmes. Risk managers, brokers and insurers must examine the particularities of the various countries where their employees are travelling. As well as identifying the potential risks associated with those territories, it is, of course, vital that any insurance coverage is regulatory and tax complaint, which an international programme can help with. Accident & health international programme insurance solutions can also be enhanced with additional services, such as travel tracking – enabling companies to know where employees are and the risks they face 24/7, so they can be proactive in their crisis and response planning and implementation.
Toni Le Pine is Head of Retail Accident & Health UK & Ireland at XL Catlin, and can be reached at email@example.com.
This article first appeared in Commercial Risk Europe.