With more and more businesses operating in multiple countries around the world, commercial travel is on the rise. Whether you’re attending an overseas conference, trying to secure a new client or checking up on international offices, you might need to spend time abroad as part of your job.
As with any trip, having the right insurance can protect you against costly situations that are out of your control. Illness, accidents, lost luggage or delayed or cancelled flights can all contribute to extra expenses. Not only can setbacks like delayed travel and lost items cost you money, but they might mean you miss out on essential conferences or cost you important business deals.
Find out how you can cover yourself and your employees on their business trips away in the following sections:
- How does business travel insurance differ to a standard travel insurance policy?
- What does business travel insurance cover?
- Do I need business travel insurance?
- How much cover do I need?
- How to make a claim
- How to find a business travel insurance provider
- Final thoughts & FAQs.
How does business travel insurance differ to a standard travel insurance policy?
Business travel insurance covers professionals travelling for business purposes. It typically covers your medical expenses, can pay out for accommodation costs or alternative travel arrangements if your flights are cancelled or delayed, and can even reimburse you for some of your trip if you can’t make it.
Many standard insurance policies will also cover you for a business trip, although some explicitly exclude business travel. More specialist policies are sometimes needed to cover you if your carrying more expensive equipment, such as multiple laptops or products for business purposes.
What does business travel insurance cover?
The extent of your protection under a business travel insurance policy varies from provider to provider. Most business travel policies include the same forms of cover as travel insurance for leisure trips, such as medical expenses and cover for cancelled flights. You can find some typical features that appear as part of a business travel insurance policy below.
One of the key things to look out for is gadget insurance, for your business items such as laptops and phones. Some policies won’t include this as standard and may require you to purchase an additional gadget travel insurance add-on.
One thing to note is that most gadget insurance cover excludes lost data. Most providers therefore highly recommend that you back up any essential data on an external hard drive, which you carry in a separate bag to minimise the chance of losing it.
Along the same vein is business equipment. This can sometimes include your work laptop or phone, though some providers require specific gadget cover. Other things included under business equipment might be official documents, exhibition stands or other items.
Another vital material item to cover is cash. If you lose any money belonging to your business while you’re away, or if it gets stolen, you can claim back the cash from the insurance provider if you include this feature depending on the amount and policy.
Cancelled or missed flights
Given the tight schedules often required when travelling for business a traffic delay, a meeting overrunning or some other unforeseen issue, a missed flight or connection can throw the entire trip off-schedule. If there’s a delay to your flight, you might need to arrange alternative travel if you need to be somewhere on time. A comprehensive travel insurance policy will provide cover for travel disruption, paying for your replacement journey and accommodation if things go wrong.
You might also have to cancel a trip at short notice due to illness. Policies from most providers mean that you can recover the costs of your trip. However, you may need to provide evidence such as a doctor’s note to prove that you are unfit for travel.
Replacement colleague cover
Some policies include replacement colleague cover. If you’re unable to attend a particular event or an important conference and somebody needs to go in your place, your policy can cover some of the expense incurred by arranging travel for a different person.
Standard travel cover is typically included
Most business travel insurance policies will also cover you for personal possessions, medical treatment and legal fees, as in a standard travel insurance policy.
Personal belongings include most non-work related possessions such as your personal luggage, cash or gadgets, and legal fees will protect you if you become involved in an incident for which you’re not to blame. If you become unwell during your trip, a business insurance policy can pay for your hospital treatment or ambulance, as well as repatriation costs to get you home quickly and safely.
You can also add trip cancellation and curtailment to your policy, in the event you need to cut your trip short or cancel.
Can I mix a business trip with leisure time?
When travelling abroad for work, many professionals choose to take the opportunity to explore somewhere new and book a few days holiday onto the end of the trip with friends or family. Many employers have no issue with their staff extending their stay or making the most of being somewhere warm once business affairs are out the way.
If this is the case, make sure you have protection for both your leisure activities and your fun by opting for a combined policy or separate personal policy. That way you can ensure that you’re protected for personal accident and liability during a variety of sport and leisure activities like yachting, cycling or fishing. In some cases, business meetings or networking can involve leisure activities, such as golf.
There are several things to watch out for when purchasing business travel insurance. Policies typically do not include the following:
- Valuable items. The policy may include gadget cover for work items, but not necessarily for your personal gadgets. Most personal possession cover has a limit. If you have valuable items such as jewellery, a private phone or other expensive belongings, you might have to invest in a higher level of combined cover or separate policies.
- Risky activities. Many insurance providers will reject claims related to adventure sports or winter sports. Skiing, for example, is rarely included as standard, and many water sports may also be excluded. Consider taking out specific cover for these activities if you are planning to hit the slopes or the water during your trip.
- Pre-existing medical conditions. Travel policies should offer cover for medical costs if you injure yourself or fall ill while abroad. However, if your illness is related to a pre-existing medical condition, your insurer may refuse to cover the cost. Be sure to declare any pre-existing health conditions beforehand, and be sure you are clear on what cover you can and can’t receive.
- Claims resulting from alcohol or drug intake. If you are found to be intoxicated or under the influence of any alcohol or drugs during an incident, you will not be able to claim for lost or stolen goods or damages.
- Unattended items. Leaving your possessions unattended usually voids your claim if the goods are stolen, damaged or lost. Always keep your belongings close and take reasonable precautions to ensure their safety.
- Reckless behaviour. This is quite a grey area when it comes to policies. Make sure you know what your insurer understands as ‘reckless behaviour’ so you can know to avoid it. Most insurers won’t pay for damages following actions they believe to be ‘reckless’ on your part.
- Travel recommendations. This is a particularly crucial, and timely, exclusion. If a government body has warned against travel to a particular area, your insurer may refuse cover for these destinations.
Do I need business travel insurance?
Travelling for business can be stressful, and many work trips typically come with busy schedules and a back-to-back itinerary, which can elevate the risk of things going wrong.
Companies will typically take a policy on behalf of employees who travel. If you’re not sure whether you have insurance, it’s a good idea to check with your employer before you set off. If you’re self-employed, then you will need to book business insurance yourself.
How much does business travel insurance cost?
How much you pay will depend on a multitude of factors. Several relate to the trip itself, and some relate to the person insured.
Age and health
Generally, the younger the insured, the lower the price, but not always. The premium will also depend on a persons current state of health, among other things. Personal information will need to be provided so that the provider can assess level of risk.
If a trip involves any risky activities such as water sports, winter sports or skiing, you should expect a significant leap in the price of your premiums owing to the elevated risk of injury. For most business trips, this shouldn’t be an issue.
Destination & length of trip
A primary cost consideration will be the destination. Generally, the closer the destination, the cheaper the premium tends to be. Typically insurance is bought for specific regions such as Europe, which can sometimes include Morocco and Egypt as well, worldwide excluding the USA, Canada and the Caribbean or worldwide including the USA, Canada and the Caribbean.
That said, it is worth checking for any excluded countries, which might include places currently in a state of war or with adverse climate conditions.
Save on multiple trips
For a one-off trip, you can opt for a single-trip policy. If you’re looking for insurance for a regualr business regular traveller, you might consider an annual multi-trip travel insurance policy. This type of policy will provider cover over specified regions for an entire year. The premiums are higher, but you tend to save money in the long run if you go on multiple trips.
How much cover do I need?
Cover levels tend to vary considerably when it comes to business travel insurance. How much cover needed will depend on budgets and needs – most providers offer differing levels of protection at different prices. Typically the higher the price bracket, the more cover you will receive. Typical levels of cover are:
- Business equipment cover. This can vary from anywhere between £500 and £2,000. A decent policy tends to offer coverage of up to £1,500, though the limit is usually less for a single item.
- Medical cover. The highest limit tends to sit at about £15 million. Most policies offer between £5 million and £10 million.
- Personal accident cover. Cover levels tend to be around £25,000-£30,000 for personal accident cover on a standard business travel insurance policy. More exclusive providers can offer protection up to £100,000.
How to make a claim
Claiming on your business travel insurance policy works much the same as making a claim on any insurance policy. Bear in mind that it’s helpful to have a copy of your policy to hand when you’re away.
- Contact the authorities if you need to. This applies to any case where you think you have been the victim of a crime, for example, if you believe someone has stolen your belongings. Contact the local police and be sure to get a copy of the report. If you fail to contact the authorities within 24 hours of the crime, you may not be able to make a claim on your policy.
- Contact your insurer. Most insurance providers have a 24-hour claims number. Keep this number safe and call it as soon as you want to make a claim. Some insurance companies provide separate helplines for medical emergencies and claims, which you should try to contact before you receive treatment.
- Gather evidence to support your claim. As above, this includes police reports, as well as any medical notes or forms from hospitals or doctors or receipts to prove ownership of damaged, lost or stolen items.
Different providers may recommend various courses of actions or require differing evidence and documentation. Make sure you are aware of the claims conditions and procedure before you start your trip.
How to find a business travel insurance provider
Many insurance providers offer some form of travel cover, whether that’s a specific policy for business trips or a general travel policy which can cover travel for commercial purposes. By visiting their websites directly, you can generate a quote quickly and easily by entering some details of the nature of the trip and the traveller to insure.
Business travel insurance is something you can buy easily directly from an insurance provider. If you’re happy with your online quote, you can proceed to purchase the policy, and within a matter of minutes, you can have both found and bought travel cover. Alternatively, you can phone a provider and speak to an adviser, which may be helpful if you are looking for specific extra protection.
Going through a broker
Brokers can be particularly helpful if you need specialist cover. If you’re travelling somewhere obscure, if you have several underlying health conditions or if you’re planning to partake in some high-risk sports, it can be a good idea to use a broker to help you secure the best deal. Brokers often receive significantly better deals than direct customers, so they can help you build a bespoke policy for a reasonable price. Even after taking their cut, you can end up with a more extensive cover for a lower premium than had you approached a provider directly.
If you’re not sure where to begin, comparison sites can help you view the terms of multiple insurers in one place. Not all comparison websites allow you to search for business travel insurance specifically, so you may have to search more generally for travel cover.
Final thoughts & FAQs
Whether you’re hopping in the car for an hour or taking a 16-hour flight around the world, things can go wrong on your business trip. On a personal level, this can mean hassle, stress and expense – and on a business level, this can mean missed business opportunities and unsigned contracts.
As one of the cheaper insurance products on the market, business travel insurance can be well worth the modest investment to take the stress out of a trip away. Whether you’re an employee or an employer, a business travel policy can help you make alternative arrangements and relieve the expense of issues that crop up away from home. Still have questions? Find answers to common queries relating to travel insurance for business trips.
Do annual policies cover travel within the UK?
Most travel policies cover travel within the UK. If you’re unsure, check with your provider before you purchase a policy.
Is there a limit to the time I can spend abroad on an annual policy?
Most standard policies will cover you for up to 31 consecutive days, though this varies from policy to policy. Some insurers can offer cover for up to 60 days per trip.
What is a pre-existing medical condition?
Most providers define a pre-existing medical condition as a personal illness or medical condition that exists or is known before purchasing an insurance policy. You must tell your insurer about your medical history, or they might refuse to pay out in the event of a medical-related claim.
What about travel accident insurance?
Travel accident insurance is a specialised type of travel insurance which serves as life insurance in the case of a travel accident. Some policies will include travel accident cover as part of their travel insurance policies. Others may offer this as a paid add-on, but some may exclude it altogether.
Make sure you speak to your provider and check the terms and conditions of your policy to see if you’re covered.
Can I buy travel insurance while I’m away?
It can be challenging to get insurance if you have already started your trip without cover. Not all providers will offer protection if you are already abroad, and many insurance providers in the country you are visiting will only provide cover to residents of that country. In this case, it is best to phone providers and brokers directly to see if anyone can offer you a solution.
This is the case for most of the providers listed here, who mostly provide cover only to UK residents, where the UK is usually defined as England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Mann and the Channel Islands. If you are looking for cover while abroad, make sure you inform the provider that you are already there to see if they can cover you and to avoid invalidating your insurance.
You should note, too, that if you’re not in the UK at the time of purchase of your policy, this might invalidate your insurance policy, even if you bought it well in advance of your trip. Make sure you check with your insurance provider whether they will still cover you if you are purchasing from outside the UK.