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8 Steps for Creating a Pre-Travel Emergency Plan

By Phylicia Sierer on January 16, 2017 12:04 PM

Topics: Uncategorized
* Content from this blog was derived from webinar hosted on January 11, 2017 with On Call International. To view the webinar recording in its entirety please click here.

Keeping track of the components of a well-managed travel risk management program isn't easy…sometimes our days can get so hectic, we barely have time to react, let alone be proactive.

But without clearly-defined processes before travel even takes place, your organization could miss important details – details that could cause duty of care oversights or worst of all, hinder the health and safety of travelers.

Worried yet? Don’t be, we’re here to help! This blog will provide you with flexible and scalable options to help you address issues before you – or your travelers - leave for a trip. This process will also prepare your organization to respond if and when an emergency strikes.

So, let’s get down to business and talk about these crucial 8-steps.

Step 1: Assign Designated Representatives

Assign one clear representative in your organization that can be the point of contact for anyone who travels – domestically or internationally. This person should be established prior to any travel taking place and formally introduced to your entire organization.

Tip: This can be a single individual, an internal team, or an assistance provider so long as the designated representative(s) has 24/7 capabilities.

Step 2: Delegate Authority

Before a crisis, you need to form a crisis response team with the key stakeholders in your organization. Once you have this team sit down and have a discussion about the possible scenarios that could happen while your staff is traveling abroad and what role each member will play. Go through crisis management exercises – regularly - so your team feels comfortable working together during a real event.

Step 3: Provide Authorization

It’s important to give your designated representatives the ability to authorize expenses. Why? When a traveler is hospitalized out of the country, often their primary insurance will not guarantee medical expenses. If you’re prepared for this possibility, your staff or your risk management firm can reach out directly for authorization and ensure the medical expenses are handled so as not to delay medical care.

Step 4: Provide Health & Safety Information

One of the best ways to protect traveler health and safety is to provide them with information that will help them avoid emergencies in the first place – we could probably do an entire blog on this subject alone, but some key areas to cover include:

  • Language barriers: If an emergency comes up having a few key phrases in the locations native tongue handy can be invaluable.
  • Cultural: Understand customs, taboos, legal issues
  • Personal risk profiles: Take a look in the mirror and understand who you are, what you do, and how that is perceived in your destination. What is the LGBT tolerance of your destination? Can women travel by themselves (Gulf States)? Etc.

Step 5: Educate your Travelers on Available Resources

Communicate, communicate, communicate! Your travelers should be aware of your organization's “response plan.” This can be as simple as sheltering in place and waiting out the event for a day to something as complex as coordinating with the State Department and the local embassy for a noncombatant evacuation.

Step 6: Ask About Critical Documents

Sometimes it’s the little things that we forget that can make the most negative impact.  Having a clearly defined list of items to pack on every trip is key. Always be sure to include:

  • List of emergency contacts
  • Ticket numbers/itinerary
  • Copy of your passport (and visa, if applicable)
  • Primary health insurance information
  • Copy of prescriptions – and a letter from your physician describing medications and translated in local language

Tip: Take a photo of your passport, relevant visas, and any prescriptions and store them on your phone (ideally on the cloud). If anything happens to get lost or stolen while you are traveling being able to bring up an image can speed up the process of proving your identity and getting a replacement.

Step 7: Stay in the loop

Make sure someone knows where you are at all times. There are many tracking systems available for corporate travel that will tell you the exact whereabouts of your employees and provide you with travel alerts and warnings.

Tip: Not big enough to justify a tracking system? Assign one person to be the primary point-of-contact for your traveler itineraries, and make sure they are aware of their whereabouts.  

Step 8: Emergency Contacts

There are more choices now than ever to keep travelers in touch during an actual emergency.

Remind your travelers to leave a copy of their important travel documents with their travel manager and personal emergency contact(s). They are also stored in their World Travel booking profiles as well as on the WorldMobile app. Travelers should have a single number saved in their phone that they know to call in an emergency.

Tip: Remember, if you are outside of the US, 9-1-1 is not the universal standard. Don’t forget, Wi-Fi dialing, Twitter, Facebook and text are also great options to get in touch.

Image by Aaron Burden via Unsplash
Phylicia Sierer

Written by Phylicia Sierer