By HARRY ENNEVOR, president of E.G. Bowman Co. Inc.
Group travel accident insurance is usually sold by a property/casualty insurance
broker, and the risk manager rather than a benefits manager is usually the buyer. Settling a travel accident claim is more like settling a property/casualty claim than a routine health or disability insurance claim. It's wise to get your broker involved in settling the claim.
If the policy covers only business travel, the employer must establish that the accident occurred in the course of business. For instance, suppose an employee gets into a car crash while riding in a taxi in Beijing. An itinerary can be invaluable to establish it was a business trip. The employer also should provide the insurer with a letter stating that the employee was injured while on company business.
Many policies provide an extra benefit of, say, $50,000 or more if an employee in a car crash was using a seatbelt. The insurer will need some proof.
With death claims, most policies pay a multiple of salary, so you first have to find out the employee's salary and then make sure the insurer pays the correct amount. When there's a fatal accident, you'll need the death certificate. If the death occurred overseas, you should obtain a newspaper article or police report and send it to the insurer. Many insurers have offices in foreign countries and can obtain these reports, but it's still a good idea to get them before the insurer does, especially if the situation was ambiguous.
If the employee has kids in college, the policy may pay their tuition until graduation, so you need to know the family situation. If the beneficiary incurs expenses going to an investment advisor, the policy may cover the advisor's fee up to a certain limit. Additionally, most policies pay the cost of returning remains from abroad for burial or repatriating a sick individual to the United States for medical treatment if it's not available locally.
A broker who's familiar with all the provisions of the policy is in the best position to review the claim, go over the benefits, and make sure that the employee or beneficiary gets every penny owed under the policy.
November 1, 2010
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