The concept of Duty of Care creates a legal obligation that is imposed on an employer to adhere to a standard of reasonable care.

This standard should be taken into consideration while asking employees to perform certain tasks on behalf of the company. These tasks might include international business travel, as one example. It is important that the employer have reasonable defenses and demonstrate that Duty of Care was considered. A defense can be provided by demonstrating that reasonable care was taken into account by providing specific insurance mechanisms and related services for their staff. Employers that utilize strategies to provide reasonable care or who employ brokers to assist them in this endeavor better protect the company’s employees and the firm’s reputation.

Duty of care is not defined by law, however it has developed through the practice of common law principles. Duty of Care may be considered a formalization of the implicit responsibilities of employers towards their employees.

What is “Duty of Care”?

What is the brokers role?

How can the proper use of insurance help address Duty of Care?

In light of the changing legal environment from both a risk and legislative perspective, Duty of Care is a significant issue for businesses who send staff overseas. These international business trips might involve sales calls, procurement of raw materials, checking on a client installation, and more.

Businesses owe a duty to their staff to ensure their safety. Brokers owe a duty of care to clients to assess their current insurance and look for ways to improve on insurance placements in an effort to help businesses address their travel risk exposure.

Duty of Care defined: “An obligation which is imposed on a business entity requiring adherence to a standard of reasonable care while performing any acts that could foreseeably harm others, or while asking employees to perform tasks that could potentially cause harm.”

International travel exposure and operations abroad increase a company’s exposure to “Duty of Care.”


What can go wrong?

• Failure to identify risks and warn travelers
• Lack of training and preparation
• Inadequate resources and response to situations or incidents

When businesses have employees who travel overseas for business reasons, the duty of care obligation expands to protect staff while on that trip. International travelers may encounter a variety of potential exposures and difficulties. Businesses should provide services through insurance to meet the needs of staff who travel abroad. These services are often times embedded into insurance policies and may include:

Trip Management Services/24-Hour Assistance
• Trip delay and missed connection
• Hotel and flight re-bookings
• Lost, stolen, and damaged baggage and baggage
delay assistance
• Emergency return travel arrangements
• Lost travel document retrieval
• Legal, embassy, and consulate referrals
• Multilingual assistance

Travel Medical Assistance Services
• Medical transportation
• Medical referral and case monitoring
• Return of mortal remains

Travel Intelligence Services
• Text messaging alerts
• Worldwide provider network
• Pre-trip planning

Who is Accountable?

Best practices that truly address Duty of Care will involve both the Employee Benefits (HR) and the Property & Casualty (Risk Management) staff at the company. The best ways to demonstrate that reasonable care was taken into account might involve the following lines of insurance coverage:

• Workers’ Compensation
• Foreign Voluntary WC
• Employee Benefits
• Travel Accident
• Kidnap and Ransom
• Specific Travel Package
Sean Jackson