Proactive “Duty of Care” for Small Business Travelers

Small businesses conducting business in foreign markets should consider insurance for themselves and their employees


Employers are expected to take necessary precautions to safeguard their employees in the workplace. As businesses grow, particularly internationally, safeguarding the ‘workplace’ can become a much more complex endeavor. While seeking new revenue streams, businesses may find themselves entering hostile areas, which can pose extreme risks not only to their business assets, but also to their employees. Without proper precautions, policies, and procedures businesses may find that they can be held responsible for a wide range of situations that may befall their employees while representing their business abroad. This Duty of Care extends further than the usual health, safety, and security requirements imposed in their home country.

Appropriate level of support in today's world

Employers will want to give careful thought to the areas in which their employees are expected to travel and operate and must provide an appropriate level of support. Host countries vary by types and levels of threats that can include terrorism, kidnappings, crime, lawlessness, repatriation and travel accidents. Individuals working and traveling in locations that are characterized as emerging markets, often challenged with weakened security environments, are especially at risk. Employees’ unfamiliarity with the host country makes it more difficult for them to respond appropriately to threats and further increases their exposure to risk. Thus, the support an employer provides to employees in such environments must be robust.

In more dangerous environments this support must extend beyond precautions and training. In these countries even with proper safety training and education, threats, extortion, kidnap incidents, and emergency evacuations can and do occur. An employer must be properly equipped to handle such an occurrence and ensure the safety of its employees, and not simply the financial costs of such an event.

As you might expect, there are firms and insurance companies that specialize in providing these types of services. If you are looking to grow your business abroad in areas where a Kidnapping, Ransom, and Extortion policy is a necessity, it is crucial to make sure the product you select for your company provides support for your employees and company beyond a financial safety net.

Proactivity and prevention are key

Proactivity and prevention are key. You need to ensure that the company you partner with can equip your business with accurate safety and security information to help make informed business decisions and protect employees. Your business should be provided with access to current information including specific risk profiling, threat analysis and a wide variety of security reports on countries and cities throughout the world. These and other services can help drastically reduce your exposure to incidents abroad.

The insurance firms that provide these services typically employ crisis management teams to help clients deal with an incident if it does occur. Here experience is paramount. Experts who have dealt with a large number of kidnapping and extortion situations can provide you and the victim’s family with information, resolution strategies and advice for reporting and communicating with proper government authorities. That experience is invaluable, since there are a limited number of individuals with this type of expertise. The crisis response team must also have the capability to respond quickly and around the clock, as these situations tend to be incredibly time sensitive. The quicker they can begin providing advice and support to a victim’s family during an incident, the more likely that a loved one can quickly and safely return home.

Next page: The discussion


About the author

Charles Regini

Director of Global Crisis Response for Unity Resources Group. Oversee all kidnap, extortion, and threat related global crisis response operations. Now residing in San Antonio, Texas. Previous Managing Director of Kroll's crisis response and planning program, primarily addressing incidents of kidnap-ransom/extortion; communicated threats/potential workplace violence; associated pre-incident security services, especially use of intelligence for security policies, practices, and business operations decision-making in high risk areas of the world. Formerly led the FBI's international kidnap negotiation program, including multiple responses to high-intensity, usually short-notice hostage / barricade, kidnap and terrorism incidents. Analyzed intelligence, assessed potential threats, and identified and implemented operational strategies. Unity Resources Group