A three-day business convention in London, for example, can easily be turned into a week-long family vacation with four days for pleasure. By combining business with pleasure, business travelers can often take advantage of ‘free’ airfare paid for by their employer by simply pushing their return date out a few days and then picking up the costs for the pleasure portion of their trip on their own.
The trend is catching on too. Many conferences now offer on-site child care for those attendees who want to extend their business trip into a family vacation.
A business trip, like any other trip, needs to be carefully planned and the travel insurance aspect must be addressed. If your company has a travel department and encourages pleasure extensions, you’re way ahead of the game. If they further cover their employees with business travel insurance plans, you’ve got some support for the business portion of your trip but perhaps not the pleasure portion of your trip. If you have to plan your business travel yourself, you’re going to want to look into your travel insurance options to be sure the business AND pleasure components are covered.
Here’s what you need to think about before extending your next business trip:
1. Does your health coverage extend to this travel?
Some business travelers are covered by their health coverage while traveling for business – some are not and so this is an especially critical concern. Before you take any business trip that’s outside your health insurance network, it’s important to make sure that you have health coverage for where you’re traveling.
When you’ve extended your business trip for pleasure, that health coverage that applied to the business portion of your trip may not be available to you if you’re outside the standard health care network. If you get injured while hiking in New Zealand after a long week of business strategy meetings, will your health care cover those medical costs or not?
This is an especially grey area of health care coverage and it could require some research through your benefits department and even by calling the health insurance company representatives.
It’s important to realize that travel medical insurance is very affordable – one of the most affordable types of travel insurance and often worth the purchase simply for the peace of mind.
2. What if your business trip is cancelled?
If the business portion of your trip is suddenly cancelled, the company takes the hit on the pre-paid trip costs, but if your pleasure trip was combined with the business trip you may have some cancellation concerns of your own.
In some cases, your employer may simply let you repay the company for the airfare and you can take the extra time for pleasure, but that’s something you’ll have to work out with your employer.
Here’s how to avoid a big loss if the business portion of your trip is cancelled and you can’t go:
Schedule your lodging with places that allow last-minute cancellations. You may have to pay a higher per-night price, but it could be worth it.
Pay for tours and other trip costs when you arrive, and not before. Again, this might mean paying a slightly higher per-ticket price, but you won’t be out the entire amount if your trip is cancelled and you can’t go.
If family members were to travel with you on the business trip, consider covering their airfare with ‘cancel for any reason’ trip cancellation coverage. If your business trip is cancelled but your airfare was not included in the trip cancellation coverage, the standard covered reasons for cancelling likely will not apply and your claim will be denied.
Essentially, you want to be sure you limit your out-of-pocket non-refundable trip costs just in case the business trip is cancelled.
3. How is your baggage covered?
When you travel for business, what goes in your bag is very different from when you travel for pleasure. Business suits replace bathing suits, laptops and display equipment replace your e-reader, and you could be hauling quite a bit of promotional material. Many business travelers have corporate credit cards with extended travel benefits – often covering items like luggage. Now is a good time to call the credit card company and have them send you the latest copy of your travel benefits – ask for the fine print version.
Read that carefully to determine if you:
Have coverage for all the items you’re taking for your business trip. If the equipment you’re taking along is worth more than you’re covered for, consider insuring it another way or shipping it ahead of time with extended insurance applied.
Have coverage for your personal items while on the extended portion of your trip. Sometimes the travel benefits are very specific and they won’t cover personal items that aren’t related to your business travel.
If you don’t have coverage for the stuff you’re taking along, check with your employer benefits department to see if your business travel coverage includes it. If not there either, it might be time to apply some travel insurance to your trip simply to be sure your business and personal items arrive intact and if they don’t, you’ll have some coverage to get them replaced in time to take care of business. See our full review of baggage coverage for details and review the baggage delay coverage information too.
4. Do you have a system for receipts?
Long gone are the days of the free-spending business traveler with a fat business account and little spending oversight. The receipts that apply to the business portion of your trip – hotel stays, meals, transportation are usually paid for your company but you’ll want to keep those carefully separate from those that apply to the pleasure portion of your trip.
5. Are you covered for travel delay costs?
Travel delays occur for all kinds of reasons – volcanic eruptions, terrorist attacks, severe weather, and more. When your travel is delayed and you incur additional unexpected expenses for lodging, meals, transportation, and other fees, do you have to pay for those yourself or does the company pick up the tab. If you’re on the pleasure part of your extended business trip, those costs may be yours to cover and a travel insurance plan with travel delay coverage can make a big difference.
6. Are you covered for evacuations?
A business traveler doesn’t always have the luxury of traveling to safe locations and yet, some of those less-than-safe places are also ideal for sight-seeing and discovery. After all, you might never get back to this region of the world again – why not take advantage of the opportunity?
Here’s the question to ask yourself: when a political or civil uprising occurs, will your company support your evacuation? If your business has concluded and you’re touring Egypt’s historic sites only to find yourself in a desperate situation and need a security evacuation, your company may arrange for that evacuation but they may not.
Some travel insurance plans cover security and political evacuations when the conditions where the traveler is become unsafe. Escaping these situations may depend on the traveler’s level of knowledge, his or her ability to communicate in the local language, and whether commercial transportation options are available, but a travel insurance representative can help a desperate traveler negotiate those situations.
If your business doesn’t cover these situations, and you’re a frequent business traveler it could be in your best interest to purchase your own coverage. See the best travel insurance plans for business travelers for more details.
7. If you’re taking the kids, can they get home alone?
One of the concerns – especially for single parents traveling with their children – is how the children will be cared for and/or transported home if something happens to the parent. If you attend a conference with child care for your little ones and extend your business trip for a few days of fun with your kids but something happens and you’re hospitalized – who will take care of your kids?
Travel insurance plans with emergency medical reunion can bring a family member of friend to your bedside. Further, travel insurance plans with return of minor children coverage can coordinate the return of your children to their home so they are not left unattended.
A final word …
While extending business travel to include some pleasure travel is an ideal way for busy workers to maximize the benefits of their business travel, it also enters into a grey area when something happens on your trip and you need help. Ideally, business travelers will be covered by a business travel insurance plan purchased through the company, but it not, it’s worth it to many business travelers to have coverage of their own.