Whether you are coming or going across “the pond,” the romance of foreign travel loses its luster when sickness or injuries occur. U.S. based camp organizations often bring in foreign staff and campers as well as send groups overseas, but the absence of good planning where medical care and liability funding are concerned may leave some camps holding the bag!
Issue #1: Foreign Liability and Workers’ Compensation
The standard camp insurance policy sold in the U.S. does not cover many of the exposures to lawsuit or employee injury that may occur outside of the U.S. In addition, overseas jurisdictions often require policies and extensions that only international carriers provide. For this reason, many U.S. companies with foreign exposures buy a Foreign Package Policy that contains a number of coverages such as Foreign General Liability, Foreign Contingent Business Auto, Foreign Voluntary Workers Compensation, Foreign Property, Kidnap And Extortion, Accidental Death & Dismemberment, and Emergency Travel Services.
There are two approaches to providing workers’ compensation for overseas workers. First, domestic workers’ compensation insurance can usually be modified to provide coverage for overseas workers on temporary assignments by attachment of a Foreign Voluntary Workers’ Compensation (FVWC) endorsement. Alternatively, for camp’s that have a complex or significant foreign exposure, a separate voluntary foreign workers’ compensation coverage is widely available.
In addition to paying benefits in accordance with the workers’ compensation law in the designated U.S. state of hire, these two approaches (endorsement or separate policy) may provide valuable extra benefits not usually available under a domestic policy. These include:
- Endemic disease. Most FVWC coverage treats endemic diseases as occupational, regardless of how the disease was contracted by the employee.
- 24-hour coverage. Many international insurers recognize that individuals travel or take small vacations when overseas on work assignments.
- Repatriation expense. Most FVWC policies will pay for the cost of bringing an ill or injured worker back to the U.S. for treatment, plus funeral expenses and transport to the U.S.
- Third-country repatriation. In some instances, third-party nationals employed away from their homeland also can be provided repatriation expense coverage for expenses to return ill, injured or deceased workers back to their country of origin.
Still not persuaded that this extension of coverage is necessary? Consider this: The cost of medical air-transport of an injured worker from Central America to the U.S. averages $25,000-$35,000 based on severity, not to mention the medical cost incurred in-country.
Issue #2: Staff/Camper Personal Health Insurance
Not all personal health insurance travels the same around the world. The problem exists both with U.S. citizens traveling aboard, as well as foreigners coming to the U.S. to work and vacation. Even when a policy does cover illness and injury abroad, it might not work exactly as it does at home. Don’t be surprised if you have to pay upfront and wait for insurance reimbursement of your medical costs after you return. If you’re traveling to a locale that has limited acceptance of credit cards and you don’t have enough cash on hand, such limitations could mean the difference between good, bad or no treatment at all.
Here are some basic coverages included for foreign medical plans:
- Medical Expenses Benefits
- Emergency Medical Evacuation
- Emergency Reunion Benefit
- Home Country Benefit
- Medical Repatriation Benefit
- Repatriation of Remains Benefit
- Trip and Baggage Protection
- Accidental Death and Dismemberment
A simple google search will unearth a couple dozen carriers to provide these types of policies. Or, you can contact your current agent or provider to inquire. Either way, before bringing foreign staff or campers to the U.S. this summer, or sending trips over the borders, camp leaders would be well advised to plan properly or risk some uninsured medical bills.