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However, for many of these workers, securing international private medical insurance cover to ensure they can be cared for in the event of illness or accident can be as problematic and difficult as the work they themselves are doing.
War zones are occupied not only by traditional armies, but also by huge numbers of voluntary organisations involved in post war reconstruction. As a member of this latter group, it is vital that an expatriate charity worker can carefully choose an international health policy which is tailored to suit his or her needs and which takes into account the particular dangers of working in a country such as Iraq or Afghanistan. Finding the right policy is not always straightforward, as many insurers have special clauses relating to war and terrorist threats.
Policies which include limited cover against terrorist attacks are available, but with conflicts not solely confined to war zones nowadays, effective cover which reflects this new global reality is now ever more important. Nearly a third of brokers questioned in a recent research survey said that they would not consider a policy if it did not provide some level of war or conflict cover, for example.
Ideally a policy should have a "stand out" benefit that really makes a difference to those expatriates living and working in the world’s hot spots. For these individuals, it really does help to have "passive war" cover including war and terrorist attack, in contrast to where policies may often have a full war risk exclusion.
Passive war cover is likely to be of particular interest staff in aid charities and those involved in rebuilding work where a conflict has occurred or is still going on, e.g. in Africa, the Middle East and even Afghanistan. Overall, the full range of health insurance services should be available, including hospital benefits and evacuation, in the event of injury by terrorists or as part of a broader war conflict.
Evacuation is likely to be particularly relevant in conflict zones, where local medical facilities may be damaged or supplies of medication and blood for transfusions may be an issue.
If that's all you do, however, it's worth digging out that document to make sure it does everything you expect of it. Many off the shelf policies have gaps in their cover, and it can be the case that some charities have been sold cover which isn't actually necessary for their needs and just adds unnecessary cost.
The key thing is to get the correct advice for your charity and a proper assessment of risk, which might require additional cover to what is outlined below. As a pre-emptive measure, proper governance and sensible risk management practices should mean you never have to rely on insurance. If you do though, it's worth knowing you're properly covered. Outlined below is a quick guide to the basics.
PROPERTY DAMAGE. This covers you for the basics like subsidence and against losses from theft and damage (say a lorry crashes into your building, for example). Make sure your policy also covers you for things like damage to or theft of fundraising stock, losses from dishonesty, and cash in the office.
BUSINESS INTERRUPTION. If you can't get into the office because damage to property nearby means the street is cordoned off by emergency services, for example, you'll be covered. It also covers power failures, loss of water supply and so on, if they're caused by damage to nearby property. Likewise, in the event that a property near yours is damaged and it stops people coming to the area, and that has an impact on your operations, a good policy will provide recompense.
EMPLOYERS' LIABILITY. Unpleasant thought it may be, this is an important one and covers you for any financial liabilities resulting from the death, injury or disease of an employee which occurs in the course of their work.
GENERAL LIABILITY. This is similar to the above, but refers instead to death, injury or disease caused to members of the public, or any loss or damage caused to their property. It also covers the same things if they're caused by goods you sell or supply.
TRUSTEES' AND INDIVIDUAL LIABILITY. There have unfortunately been cases where individuals within charities have taken advantage of vulnerable people the organisation is meant to protect. Court action and the resulting financial implications can be very expensive, which is what this feature is designed to cover. It includes trustees, directors and other employees, and covers "wrongful act, error, or omission" for which they may have been responsible.
INTERNET AND EMAIL. Misplaced or stolen data happens to the most well resourced organisations, so if it was to happen to a charity and resulted in legal action the costs could be punishing. Make sure your insurer has you covered for data breaches or thefts, and that you're covered for legal defence and other relevant costs (if your charity has a particularly high profile, for example, you might find it necessary to hire a PR firm to help defend your reputation in the media).
You should also ensure you're covered for other legal expenses, if, for example, you're the chief executive of a charity and find yourself personally subject to legal action. Employee disputes can also incur major costs, particularly if they end up in an employment tribunal, so any insurance products you consider should also take account of that. As with anything, an insurance policy is only as good as the effort you put into it, so it's worth taking at least a little time to get it right.