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COVID-19 UPDATE: Travel Assistance is More Important Than Ever

7/23/2020
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Assist America has expanded its offering to provide critical assistance to members around the globe.
 
From providing referrals to COVID-19 testing sites to organizing video conferences with healthcare specialists on behalf of members, and coordinating complex medical transports, our Operations team has been a constant support to members facing a medical emergency while traveling during the pandemic.

With cases still on the rise in many parts of the world, and spikes of new cases in countries where the virus is deemed under control, it is clear that the pandemic will not vanish overnight. Until a vaccine is approved for distribution, the world must adapt to a new environment with new travel routines and behaviors.

Helping Travelers Meet New Travel Requirements

COVID-19 shows us how unpredictable the world can be, and how countries can react very differently to the same crisis. Every country has some sort of requirements or travel restrictions in place. Some nations announced they would require passengers to test prior their departure or upon landing. Others are asking travelers to show proof of coverage for medical emergencies including evacuations or repatriations.

In recent weeks, Assist America has assisted members as they prepare for future travels and apply for visas by providing Letters of Coverage. The letters list the services members are eligible for such as medical evacuation or repatriation without financial limits. Whether our members plan to travel to Canada, Ukraine or West Africa, one thing is sure: the virus has not stripped them of their taste for travel.

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Heightened Awareness for Travel Emergency Solutions

The pandemic has created a heightened awareness for the need of travel emergency solutions. COVID-19 shows us how unpredictable the world can be, and how countries can react very differently to the same crisis. While crime and cyber security were the top concerns for travelers in 2018 and 2019, concerns about getting COVID-19 and access to qualified healthcare are understandably at the forefront of every traveler’s mind this year.

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With a heightened awareness, travelers want access to trustworthy resources about the virus and their destination, health recommendations, medical referrals, and other medical assistance services at their fingertips. To meet these new needs, Assist America now provides a dedicated COVID-19 platform which includes the latest information regarding the virus, an interactive map of travel restrictions, and other resources such as recent findings regarding COVID-19 symptoms and prevention tips. Our coordinators are also experts on topics such as quarantine measures, medical transport logistics, and testing procedures and remain available 24/7.
 

Duty of Care for Employers

Many companies rely heavily on their employees traveling to grow or operate their business. According to a survey conducted by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), despite the rising infection rates in some parts of the world, companies are still considering a return to travel. Half (49%) are considering resuming all travel (regardless of country or region) in the near future.

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As organizations plan to resume global operations and business travels soon, employers must be ready to fulfill their duty of care obligations to their employees while maintaining profitability. Assist America offers powerful and innovative solutions to help organizations implement comprehensive risk management and emergency response plans. Our global emergency assistance program is designed to ensure employees have access to the medical care they need when away from home, often resulting in successful and quicker recoveries. It also alleviates the financial risks caused by a medical emergency while away from home.
 

Possibility of a Virus Resurgence 

Many governments are moving ahead with their reopening phases, hoping to revive their economies. Some lifted their stay-at-home orders, authorized retailers and hospitality businesses to serve customers again, and some are even slowly reopening their borders to tourists. Yet, the world is still grappling with many aspects of the coronavirus. As the pursuit of a vaccine continues, infection rates are reaching record levels in some countries, while other nations work to mitigate new localized outbreaks. No one knows what the future months hold and whether widespread quarantine measures like we experienced in March and April will be needed.

Whether they travel domestically or internationally, travelers need to be prepared for any circumstances such as new lockdown or travel restriction measures which may happen overnight. Assist America has helped members who were unexpectedly stranded in a foreign country receive adequate care near their location or get the required tests and documents to travel back home. Recently, our medical coordinators organized for a member to receive the surgery he needed in Ecuador as he was unable to return to his home country as planned. The member later shared that “being provided a doctor in a foreign country while stuck due to COVID-19 was extremely helpful. I really appreciate all that was done to make sure I got the care I needed”. ​

For more information about Assist America's pandemic services, visit www.assistamerica.com/covid-19.