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European Companies See Business Travel as Top Three Risk

Business travel in Europe might be expected to pick up in 2013, but the concerns over risk associated with employee international travel is also on the rise among companies in the region, as research published by the ACE Group shows. More than half of the companies the group surveyed think that the level of business travel risk their company faces will grow over the next five years, a quarter seeing it as a significant increase.

The perception of most of the 600 surveyed companies in the UK, France, Germany, Benelux, Italy and Spain puts business travel among the top three fastest-growing risk concerns of the six categories identified in the research – terrorism and political violence risk, environmental risk, multinational/ export risk, IT and cyber risk, directors’ and officers’ liability risk, and business travel risk.

Many of the companies included in the survey are worried about compliance implications of international business travel. 71% of mid-sized businesses and 65% of larger ones mentioned being concerned with regulatory and tax consequences, as many national supervisors and enforcement authority take an increasingly proactive stand on compliance.

ACE’s research showed that awareness of compliance risks varies depending on the country. UK and Spanish companies are most likely to be concerned (85% and 82% respectively). The percentage is lower for Benelux (67%), Germany (64%), Italy (60%),. while France exhibits the lowest level of awareness (50%).

The survey also pinpointed new business travel ‘claims hotspots’ which develop as European companies focus on generating revenues overseas. Surveyed companies refer to ‘Asia and Australasia’ as being such a hotspot (27%) and to ‘South America’ (27%), most insurance claims coming from here. Western Europe is at the opposite end, with very few companies considering it a claims hotspot (fewer than 5%).

In what making claims is concerned, 67% of respondents say their insurer handles their business travel claims in a satisfying manner. Yet the level of satisfaction varies from one country to another. The overwhelming majority of UK respondents (90%) are happy with the process, while only 58% in Germany and 52% in France feel the same way.

“Traditionally, companies have tended to put in place one single insurance policy to cover their business travel globally. However, this might not always be the best or most compliant approach. Whether or not a claim for medical expenses can be paid to a European employee who falls ill in an emerging market where the insurer is unlicensed, for example, will depend on local laws,” said Jeff Dowling, chief underwriting officer, Accident & Health, for UK and Ireland at ACE.

“Our research suggests that Asia, Australasia and South America are becoming the business travel ‘claims hotspots’ for European companies. With the shift to emerging markets gathering pace, we expect this trend to continue. At ACE, we are already seeing increased interest from clients in working with a global insurer to develop more comprehensive multinational programmes that reflect their specific exposures and give reassurance that the policy will perform when their employees most need it,” Dowling added.