Resources & Insights

International Insurance Helps Cut Risks in Doing Business Overseas

June 4, 2020

Spencer Mahoney,
Executive Vice President

If the coronavirus outbreak reminded us of anything, it’s that nasty risks lurk everywhere and can surprise at any time.

Unfortunately, aside from a travel accident and sickness policy, there are few insurance products that can help when epidemics strike. However, for companies engaged in or planning more than the occasional trip to foreign markets, there is international insurance.

That’s good, because we know that, risks being part of life, some of us are going to be back on transcontinental flights once this outbreak dissipates.

Typically offered as a bundle, international packages include property, general liability, automobile, professional liability, workers’ compensation, medical risk coverage and, for those who feel they might need it, even kidnapping and ransom insurance.

In other words, you’ll get coverage for the same sorts of perils you would domestically. So why buy an international insurance package when you’ve got all of the insurance you need here at home? Simple: those standard U.S. policies often will not cover incidents that occur overseas.

Types of International Policies

Most international policies are mirrors of their domestic versions.

For example, like any general liability policy, an international GL policy will protect a business from lawsuits in foreign countries based on accidents, injuries or negligence. If the claim arises from normal business operations, your international GL policy kicks in.

Like its domestic version, an international product liability insurance policy will cover losses that occur as a result of a potential defect in your products.

An international professional liability insurance policy, aka errors and omissions insurance, will help you cover the cost of defending a lawsuit and any settlement or award.

There are also international policies that don’t typically enter the insurance conversation for companies who don’t have operations abroad.

For example, ocean cargo insurance.

This is particularly important for importers who have paid for all or part of a shipment before receiving it. If something happens to the goods in transit, an ocean cargo insurance policy will cover the financial loss.

There’s also a version of workers’ compensation called foreign voluntary coverage, which can provide coverage for diseases prevalent in a particular country and can help employees find appropriate medical care while outside of the U.S. A foreign voluntary insurance policy also covers injuries related to a work-related car accident and even injuries from acts of war or terrorism.

Do You Need Ransom Insurance?

The more exotic policy in an international insurance package is, of course, kidnap and ransom insurance.

If your operations are in places such as France, China or Israel, there’s less need for this coverage. But think of high-crime countries or warring nations, and kidnap and ransom coverage definitely becomes a necessity. Iraq, Afghanistan, Venezuela, Mexico all come to mind.

Beyond paying a ransom, this brand of coverage also typically pays for medical treatment for injuries, legal liability related to the kidnapping, and relocation and job-retraining expenses.

The world at the moment is full of uncertainty, no doubt. Even without a coronavirus playing havoc with our plans, travel to foreign countries brings with it a number of challenges, including corrupt officials, crime, unfamiliar laws and customs. Of course, none of that has stopped U.S. companies from doing business abroad in the past and it won’t in the future. Once your company dives back into foreign waters, exploring your options under foreign voluntary insurance should be on your to-do list.

Spencer Mahoney is CCIG’s Executive Vice President. Reach him at 720-212-2051 or

CCIG is a Denver-area insurance, employee benefits and surety brokerage with clients nationwide. We do more than make sure you have the right policy. We help you manage your long-term cost of insurance with our risk and claims management expertise and a commitment to service excellence.

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