Risks associated with workations
Workation is generally associated with pleasant experiences – employees get the chance to improve their work-life balance, as well as spend time on boosting their mental health and wellbeing. However, we have to acknowledge the fact that health & occupational risks are not eliminated when working from abroad, and both – employees and employers – should protect themselves from those.
Getting some minor injuries when working in the office is not uncommon. The same can happen when workflexing – to name a few of generic examples, poorly designed workstation in your hotel room leading to back injury; the universal slips, trips and falls somewhere on your way to take a work call from the beach! Injuries can also happen in the spare time when taking a walk on the beach, hiking, surfing, or doing other activities.
After hearing about these risks, WorkFlex‘s clients often ask:
- Who is liable in case an accident happens when the employee is abroad?
- Is travel insurance always needed?
- Can the travel insurance for workations be the same as for business trips?
- How should we handle any insurance claims or any other medical issues?
- Is health insurance included in the A1/CoC?
- And others.
The concern of who is exposed to paying medical bills in case of an accident while working from abroad is legitimate! Although it might appear that the work to purchase extensive travel health insurance must be conducted by the employee, the legal frameworks stating what is an occupational accident during workations is ambiguous. Therefore, employers might be enjoined to cover the medical expenses if it is deemed as an occupational accident.
To illustrate with an example, one mother required an early emergency delivery of her baby and post-natal treatments while travelling in a foreign country. After being discharged, she is facing a $950,000 bill for medical rehabilitation because she was not sufficiently educated on what is included in her existing insurance of the home country and because she did not procure a suitable travel health insurance (Nelson, 2014).
Another concern is the quality of medical services employees get in case of an accident. The medical insurance coverage we would receive in destinations might not be as broad as expected, even if you carry public or private insurance and your home country has a social security treaty with the destination country.
Coverage without additional health insurance
Can I rely on my public insurance?
It is important to bear in mind that public insurance is only valid in the EU countries, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Iceland. Generally, it is advised to carry the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to prove the insurance coverage of your home country’s insurance while travelling abroad. Though public insurance is helpful, will it be able to cover all the different situations you may encounter during your temporary work abroad?
You are a German citizen carrying public insurance and you decide to workflex in France. There will be situations that you encounter where the standard of medical treatment while using your EHIC card will not be the same standard as you experience in Germany.
If for emergency reasons you need to seek medical treatment, you must ensure that the medical facility is under the public health scheme, otherwise the German public insurance will not cover the treatment costs. Even if the German public insurance partially covers the costs, the employee must pay 30% for ambulant care, 80% of the pharmaceutical costs, and 20% of the hospital stay in addition to extra daily charges for the hospital and other co-payments based on the complexity of the treatment. Moreover, it is often required to prepay the treatments in the medical facility before receiving a medical report that can be submitted to the insurance provider.
If transportation back to Germany is needed for medical reasons, this type of insurance will not cover you – getting this service would imply tens of thousands of euros to be paid either by you or your employer, depending on the root cause of the emergency! Irrespective of the country where the accident takes place, you should assume paying a significant share of the medical costs yourself.
But what about private insurance?
Although private health insurance providers are required to provide coverage to the insured for at least one month globally, the actual length of the coverage depends on your provider and the insurance conditions might differ to the home country’s standards (see here for an overview of German private insurance providers and their restricted travel policies). However, employees have the option to purchase additional policies to amplify the existing insurance scope. The employee should also assess whether a separate foreign travel health insurance is recommended based on deductibles. These would need to be paid in case of a compensation claim and whether medical repatriation is included. Furthermore, many private health insurance providers reimburse a portion of the premiums if no claims have been submitted in a year. If that is the case, it is advisable to purchase a separate travel health insurance to safeguard the bonification.
To sum up, coverage of workations with existing insurance, either public or private, is indeed extremely complicated. There are a myriad of different rules across all the insurance providers that also depend on the destination of your choice. Moreover, it is important to remember that acquiring an A1 certificate or a Certificate of Coverage (CoC) from the insurer that’s needed for workflexing trips does not address your health insurance needs.
Ultimately, to contain your financial risk and save effort on researching the local insurance conditions for a destination country, one should procure private travel health insurance to workflex abroad.
Reduce employer & employee risk with a dedicated workation insurance
Injuries abroad can get expensive – not only emotionally, but also financially. Knowing that this pain could be the responsibility of both employee and employer, it’s definitely worth it to hedge the risk by purchasing specific workation insurance packages for each employee.
To minimise the employer and employee risk of potentially paying the medical expenses for the employee, WorkFlex has partnered with Hallesche Krankenversicherung a.G. This provides comprehensive travel insurance for employees temporarily working from abroad using WorkFlex.
With this new feature, WorkFlex has added another layer of safety – travel health insurance for your employees’ workflexing trips.
What’s covered by WorkFlex’s insurance feature?
- Unlimited medical coverage to suit your and your employee’s needs while in a foreign country, including any emergency situation in any clinic, dental treatments, cases of Covid-19 and medical repatriation
- No restrictions on home & destination countries: Many insurance providers have great restrictions on countries their packages cover. With the WorkFlex solution there are no restrictions on home & destination countries eligible for the insurance package
- Easy-to-use & integrated with WorkFlex platform for a seamless and easy application
- No administrative burden: The WorkFlex team takes care of applying, communicating, and managing the insurance package throughout the whole trip period.
- Comprehensive & easy-to-grasp guide of the insurance policy provided for the employee and employer. Hallesche Krankenversicherung also provides 24/7 phone and email support for any questions about the insurance coverage or assistance while abroad under 0049 711 66 03 39 30 in 25 languages.
If you want to learn more about WorkFlex’s new insurance feature, feel free to book a demo or reach out to your WorkFlex consultant!