Away on business? Which risks are South African travellers facing?

Be it a quick flight from Johannesburg to Cape Town or travelling halfway across the globe to a conference, millions of corporate employees travel for business each week. In fact, Boeing Magazine estimates there are approximately 800,000 passengers in the air at any given time.

The corporate world is responsible for 40 percent of all air travel. The vast majority of these trips happen without incident. However, in an age where security concerns are an important consideration for travel planners, companies must be prepared for any emergency.

Simmy Micheli, Sales and Marketing Manager for Travel Insurance Consultants (TIC), says more than 50 percent of TIC’s costs related to medical claims is for accident claims. This means, although travellers may think they are not at risk because they are fit and healthy, accidents are a significant risk.

Micheli reveals almost 60 percent of business travellers from South Africa are travelling into Africa, which has its own profile. For example, gastric ailments as a result of poor water quality are most common in Africa, Micheli says, and can lead to medical cost ranging from R5,000 to R200,000.

Mosquito-borne diseases are another serious risk in Africa. They also often carry a hefty price tag.

TIC incurred costs of R952,000 for one traveller who contracted Malaria in Sierra Leone. Micheli explains: “The disease that presents the largest risk to southern African travellers is Malaria. Malaria affected more than 200-million people in 2015 and resulted in 430,000 deaths. Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for 75 percent of the deaths.”

Rural African areas often have no modern healthcare, Micheli adds.“Patients in these areas either rely on traditional medicine or travel great distances for care. Hospitals and clinics often don’t offer specialist care services, and travellers need to be transported to more appropriated facilities of the in other countries and even into Europe.”

These statistics illustrate the need for a comprehensive travel risk policy Oz Desai, Corporate Traveller General Manager. A Travel Management Company will help companies with a comprehensive risk assessment. There are five stages of travel risk management: identifying the risk, preparing the traveller, tracking the traveller, communication and response.

Desai says booking through a single TMC ensures Duty of Care requirements are streamlined. “Ensuring that your travellers follow your travel policy and comply with your agreed booking channels will make it much easier to access their booking data and locate them in the case of an emergency. Booking all your business travel through a single TMC, like Corporate Traveller would make this process even quicker,” he maintains.

A TMC can also assist with visa, passport and immigration services, travel insurance, plus general healthcare advice, including recommended vaccinations and disease prevention measures. A TMC should have a traveller tracking solution in place to enable companies to quickly locate its travellers, wherever they are in the world.

Although a comprehensive travel risk policy is a must, Desai warns that these policies are useless unless they are communicated effectively to the travelling staff. “A simple communication plan is therefore essential so that when an emergency happens, travellers know exactly who to contact for help. Business travellers need to have a full understanding of what benefits, policies and situations apply. This provides a sense of security and also allows them to respond appropriately should the need arise,” he explains.

Desai says travel risk management may not eliminate all risks, but it “does allow a company to mitigate as many of the risks as possible”. 

Learn how to meet your duty of care obligations while keeping your travellers safe when they are on the road, with our 5 step essential guide to corporate travel risk management.