When employees travel for business there are several things to consider reducing risk and improve the experience for everyone, insurance is just one of them.
Start with What You Can Control
The best way to reduce risk is to have travel policies in place. These policies should cover everything from car rentals, to taking care of business equipment, to in-person and online behavior. Employees need to understand all the steps they need to take for a safe and successful trip, so they can make appropriate decisions when on the road.
Risk comes in many forms including safety, security, injury, theft, sickness, liability, and damage. There’s no one policy that covers everything, so it’s important to review all your policies to make sure everything’s covered.
The Traveling Employee Business Guide
Packing: This combination of personal and business space needs to be taken seriously and tread lightly. Businesses can set wardrobe guidelines, especially when working. Some companies opt for “uniforms” when at trade shows and conferences. Typically, a shirt and/or jacket with a logo, or at least a category of dress such as corporate or business casual.
Other items in the baggage may include company property electronic devices, confidential documents, prototypes, or other important materials. These need to be packed and cared for properly to ensure safe and secure travels. These items should also be inventoried and documented to determine their value in case of loss, theft, or damage.
Confirm that your insurance limits cover the full valuation of all property that is going with the employee. There may be coverage limitations or extensions depending upon the type and value of the property. Sometimes there is separate coverages or limitations for salespersons samples, or for property at a trade show.
If you’re renting equipment on-site so that your employees don’t have to lug heavy baggage from door to door, double check your business insurance. Many policies cover replacement of property that you own versus that you rent. Depending upon your policy, you may not have to pay extra to the rental company for their insurance. You may already have coverage under your existing plan.
Arriving: Everything is going great. The employee is well, secure, responsible and arrived at the destination in great shape and on time. How are they going to travel while at their home away from home? Driving around town is another business concern.
Whenever an employee is driving on behalf of the business it’s important that the business understands what kind of driver they are. Before having any employee embark on a trip where they’ll need to drive do your homework. Review the employees’ driving record and have clear policies about who can rent a car and who cannot.
Another consideration is how the rental is being paid. A company credit card is the cleanest way to go for business automobile insurance purposes. Coverage for damage to the rental vehicle and loss of use of the rental vehicle due to the damage may automatically be covered by your credit card. You can also add the coverage to your current business package, usually for a nominal fee.
This is a good idea if renting vehicles while traveling is common for you. If the employee uses a personal credit card and files for reimbursement, then the rental company may look to your employee to pay for the claim. Either way, both you and your employee need to clearly understand the situation in case of a claim.
Conducting Business: Even though the trade show doesn’t start until tomorrow, your employees are still conducting business, or should at least have business-like conduct. They should expect to be seen by other attendees and vendors on and off the tradeshow floor, and at each encounter, they are representing your business.
Good behavior doesn’t always save employees from having accidents. The best scenario is that anything that goes wrong only happens to YOUR own property, such as something being dropped or stolen. Since that’s not always the case, your business insurance needs to cover damage to other people’s property as well as bodily harm. Sometimes good intentions go bad and things happen.
Entertainment: Just because it’s all business doesn’t mean employees can’t have a little fun. Your policies regarding appropriate behavior should be top-of-mind, and there are insurance considerations as well. For example, each state has their own work guidelines that may dictate if worker’s compensation will cover physical accidents while having a little fun. And what about if the employee is intoxicated? There is an employment practices liability exposure if a ‘little fun’ gets out of hand.
No Place Like Home: Your employees have returned! Either with or without incident, when you have your employee and insurance policies in place, every trip, trade show, and conference can be successful!
Bonus Information: Your employees’ behavior is a direct reflection on your business. In addition to their behavior potentially causing them to hurt themselves or damage property, they can also hurt your business reputation. Check out this article about employees who behaved badly (at work, at a conference, and online) and the actions taken by their employers.