Workers Compensation Options for American Employees Traveling Abroad

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If you're an employee of an American company, and you've been based overseas either for a temporary business trip or an extended assignment, your workers' compensation options can be a lot different than what you'd expect to get if you had been working in the United States. Don't assume that you don't get any workers' compensation, but you do need to find out what policies the company has in place for when workers are injured on the job while overseas.

Business Travel Accident Policies

Short-term travel is often covered by a combination of your domestic workers compensation and a business travel accident policy. Before you went overseas, your employer should have investigated how much your state's workers comp would pay for extended hotel room fees (in case you have to stay longer due to the accident or illness but don't need hospitalization), repatriation expenses, and foreign hospitalization, if needed. A travel accident policy should have been added to cover those expenses and more, such as auto accidents and infectious diseases.

Foreign Voluntary Workers Compensation

One of the more common policies for overseas workers, especially those living and working overseas for an extended time, is foreign voluntary workers compensation. This policy can be bought by itself or added to an existing insurance policy, and it's very common to find it combined with business travel accident insurance and other riders as part of an international package. If you were stationed overseas for a long time, this is the combination of policies that your employer should have gotten. Depending on the country you were in, it could also include such interesting policies as kidnapping coverage (hopefully this is not what contributed to your injuries!).

International Endorsements

A more basic approach for companies that are trying to control costs is to take the domestic workers compensation insurance policy that the company has and have a bunch of riders or endorsements added to it. Each endorsement or rider covers something specific. For example, you'll have one for diseases, another one for auto accidents, and so on. It's one of the easier tactics, but it can also result in missing coverage if your employer forgot to add a particular endorsement.

If you are having trouble finding out what your employer had for insurance, or if you are having trouble getting reimbursed for costs, contact a lawyer to help you sort out the mess. You should have coverage, and it's just a matter of finding out what exactly that coverage is.