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Knowledge Gap Widens for US-Based International Business Travelers

While safety remains the highest priority for US-based business travelers, when travelling internationally these same business people feel the least prepared to deal with political unrest. These are some of the findings in the second annual Asterisk International Business Traveler Study published by Europ Assistance USA and their partner Drum Cussac. Europ Assistance USA and Drum Cussac polled five hundred US-based business people who had taken at least three trips internationally within the last twelve months.

The number one concern of those polled was safety - including personal security, terrorism, and radicals. 83% of travelers polled stated that safety and the ability to take care of their medical needs while travelling internationally were their highest priority. "The two years of data is very robust," said Guillaume Deybach, CEO Europ Assistance USA. "There's a significant knowledge gap between what business travelers think they know and what they actually know."

The Asterisk study found that the knowledge gap for business travelers continues down to a personal level. While fully half of those surveyed stated that they had required some level of medical care while traveling abroad, almost as many (44%) were unsure if their health insurance company provided them with the same benefits abroad as they receive at home.

Deybach said, "I am not sure what is worse for a business, asking an employee to take on an unnecessary risk or avoiding an opportunity entirely, out of fear. The right tools and intelligence will help reduce these risks, help open new markets, and enable better decision making."

Asterisk is an enterprise travel risk management service from Europ Assistance and Drum Cussac, two internationally renowned and highly trusted assistance and risk management providers. Other highlights from the second annual Asterisk International Business Traveler Study include:

  • 45% of respondents said their company does not offer a plan to assist travelers with travel-related emergencies or they do not know about it, with 80% indicating their company does not have a formal emergency or communication plan.
  • An overwhelming 90% of respondents felt unequipped to handle a natural disaster or political unrest/riots while traveling, while 82% felt unequipped to find a local doctor.
  • Travelers are increasingly concerned about the ability to use their communications devices, such as cellphones, smart phones, and computers - as these are vital links for their security as well as their business.
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Mobile Workforce As Popular As Ever

Organizations all over the world are leveraging the benefits of a globally mobile workforce. According to a KPMG International survey, 72 percent of over 600 respondents use global mobility programs to support overall business objectives. KPMG International’s 15th annual Global Assignment Policies and Practices (GAPP) survey provides a wealth of information for those responsible for or interested in global mobility. The detailed data found in these pages is an opportunity to compare or contrast one’s current practices to those of their peers or other types of organizations. Further, it allows for critical learning of best practices and new ways of thinking.

“A globally mobile workforce is as popular as ever,” says Achim Mossmann, Principal, KPMG’s International Executive Services, KPMG in the US. “Over the 15 years of this survey’s existence, in those companies where use of mobility is the norm, we have seen continued expansion and adaptation to the programs. We even see companies with headquarters in Nordic and Asia Pacific regions beginning to jump on the globalization bandwagon and needing to move their people to new strategic growth locations.”

Flexibility and adaptability of programs to address changing demands is strongly evidenced through the variety of assignment types offered:

  • 81 percent offer short term assignments;
  • 96 percent offer long term assignments;
  • 47 percent offer permanent transfer/indefinite length assignments.

Surprisingly, given the current economic environment, and the noted desire to support the business, only 12 percent of survey participants say that cost control and assurance of an acceptable return on investment (ROI) are of importance.

According to Mossmann, “Having agreed upon metrics to demonstrate ROI helps any global mobility program demonstrate objectively their value to the broader organization and secure continued program funding. However, a notable amount of survey participants struggle to track ROI information as it relates to international assignments—27 percent do not know the percentage of assignees that leave the organization within 12 months of repatriation and 31 percent do not know why they leave.”

Encouragingly, survey participants, year-on-year, continue to exhibit inclusionary mindsets as it relates to the definition of a “family” within their policies for benefit purposes. Fifty-five percent include unmarried domestic partners/companions of the opposite gender and 49 percent include unmarried domestic partners/companions of the same gender.

These broader definitions are most evident in European and Asia Pacific-headquartered organizations, and also within the financial services and high technology industries. In circumstances where organizations may offer incentives for assignees to accept international opportunities, many survey participants also take into consideration dual-career couples and their children.

For instance 21 percent provide job search support in the host country and 21 percent reimburse education expenses for the spouse/partner. Forty-one percent offer language training and 37 percent offer cross-cultural training to the assignee, spouse and their children.

Overall, the use of international assignees will remain the same amount or more for 86 percent of survey participants.

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Expatriate Health Insurance

Compare Expatriate Health and Medical Insurance Plans, Coverage, Quotes and Companies, with iPMI Magazine. iPMIM represents leading providers of expat medical, health and travel insurance plans. Find the right and most appropriate Expatriate Health Insurance for overseas travel, global mobility and relocation