Bleisure extensions unlikely, modifications to insurance policies expected: CTMs

Bleisure is not forbidden, but corporate travel managers expect demand tagged to overseas business trips to be soft, as more governments negotiate bilateral green lanes to fast track the resumption of international business travel.

Adriana Nainggolan, travel programme manager, Asia-Pacific, Autodesk, said: “Bleisure is allowed. Nothing has changed with our travel insurance policy where a work trip and personal trip up to seven days’ extension is covered by medical insurance paid by the company.

CTMs predict that travel insurance policies will be modified soon to reflect the current situation

Adopting a Covid-19 travel policy of “business-critical and with vice president approval”, travel is still currently restricted and many borders are not fully open, she noted. But while the company has not looked at changing its travel policy, it will have to soon.

“Insurance, in general, is under the compensation and benefits department of HR, so this is a topic that we need to have a discussion on internally.”

Another corporate travel manager also said there was no change if travellers want to mix business and leisure, “but we don’t foresee anyone taking this up at this moment”.

However, if a traveller is infected by Covid-19 during the leisure portion of the business trip, then it is not covered under the company’s business travel insurance, he explained.

Noting that Covid-19 is a new disease that is highly contagious with more than 400,000 deaths around the world and counting, Benson Tang, executive director, corporate travel, Informa Markets, said: “It is not just the issue of insurance. If a traveller is infected, the hospital stay and the possible consequence of not being cured is much higher than before.”

Tang added the overall consideration is not just limited to personal interest, for corporate interest is a major consideration as asymptomatic travellers returning to the office could infect others.

When asked if travel insurance premiums would rise and by how much, a corporate travel manager based in Shanghai said he was unsure.

But Tang opined “this is very certain,” though he acknowledged it was still too early to comment further as the pandemic is still not over yet.

On seeking support from insurance companies, a corporate travel manager in the pharmaceutical industry wanted “verbiage” specific to the coverage of pandemic situations. This is necessary with more countries starting to reopen, he commented.

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