By Lisa Lindsay
Many of you spend hours planning summer vacations. You carefully book adventures and sightseeing tours but don’t take into account the potential danger of exploring a new region or being away from home. This can lead to disastrous consequences. The same type of planning is necessary to make sure you are “risk ready” while on vacation.
Here are five things you should know before packing your bags:
1. Be aware of what emergencies are most likely to happen
Let’s face it; many people enjoy vacationing in tropical and remote locations that may be prone to natural or weather-related disasters.
Fires, floods, hurricanes, landslides, tornadoes and winter storms can devastate vacation regions. You may try to plan around these but it’s not always possible. Then, there are other risks vacationers tend to ignore that could impact their life safety, such as hiking, rock climbing, boating or using ATVs in isolated or inaccessible locations.
Identifying risks and emergencies before you go on vacation allows you to be better prepared and to have a plan of action in place prior to arrival. While some of the planning may not take place until arrival, it’s a good idea to map out your plan before you leave home.
If your vacation destination is prone to hurricanes and you will be traveling during hurricane season, make sure you have an understanding of the evacuation process. The same holds true for wildfires. Vacationers caught in the 2017 Gatlinburg, Tennessee, wildfires and the 2018 Napa Valley fires can attest to the importance of preparedness.
If your holiday includes thrilling outdoor activities, take into account your physical limitations, understand safety practices and learn the qualifications of who you are chartering, renting or hiring. If you are traveling to a destination where kidnappings are known to happen, consult with a specialist who can provide a Safe Passage Travel Security assessment.
2. Know your local area and surroundings
Your vacation is about to begin and your family is excited about the luxury home that you will be renting for the next 10 days. Nothing is more majestic than the mountain views overlooking the lake. Getting up to the mountain home is a bit of a trek, but there is no alternative. There is only one way in and one way out. While the thought of being alone sounds peaceful, it comes with dangers.
If someone is injured, what will be the best option for getting quick medical care? Is there a hospital or emergency medical care nearby? If the road is washed out due to a fire or flash flood, what options will you have? Are you likely to have cell phone coverage if you are hiking or kayaking? Being prepared to deal with these situations could save your life.
3. Stay up-to-date on events that may affect you
Whether traveling domestically or overseas, stay up-to-date regarding local events that could impact your safety.
When traveling abroad, many people take time to register with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), a free service that allows U.S. citizens traveling or living aboard to enroll with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. The program helps you stay informed, stay connected and stay safe.
Understandably, domestic travelers tend to be more casual about being aware of local events that may impact them. Take the time to familiarize yourself with a local news or radio station or a website that alerts you to breaking news in your area. With so many people taking advantage of the sharing economy through services such as VRBO, you can no longer rely on the management of the hotel to keep you in the loop.
4. Develop an action and evacuation plan
Create an action plan that includes roles and responsibilities. If necessary, your strategy should include your evacuation plan.
Before you board your flight or take that long drive, make sure that someone at home has your full itinerary, as well as several ways to contact you — cell, other family members, hotel, resort, vacation rental service, etc.
Items to include in your overall action plan should include who will monitor the updates and news? Who will be in charge of pets, manage all family documentation and medication? Who will be responsible for the protection of property?
Your evacuation plan details should include important decisions like where you’ll go if you need to leave and when will you begin evacuation.
5. Create your communication plan
Vacation is often times an opportunity for family members to engage in different activities and regroup at the end of the day for a relaxing dinner. A communication plan is critical to ensuring all family members are accounted for safely and have access to necessary resources. Names and contact information for all family members and meeting places should be included in case an evacuation is necessary. When creating the plan, you should ask yourself, “If something happens, where will my family members go and how will we stay connected if we are not together?”
Your communication plan should also include regular check-ins with someone who is not traveling with you. There is a great benefit in knowing not too much time will pass before someone says “Hey, I have not heard from May in 24 hours, and I need to check on them.”
Vacation is a time to relax and have fun. A little preparation can give you a lot of peace of mind. Plan carefully and take a few moments to prepare yourself so that you truly are “risk ready.”
Lisa Lindsay is the executive director with the Private Risk Management Association (PRMA), a collaborative group that aims to raise awareness and educates agents and brokers about the evolving insurance industry landscape so they can better serve high net worth insurance consumers. Lindsay has been embedded in the industry for more than 30 years and served as former President of Marsh Private Client Services (PCS). She was instrumental in establishing PRMA and played a key role in developing The Chartered Private Risk and Insurance Advisor (CPRIA) certificate, the only online certification program specifically developed for professionals in the high net worth industry. PRMA brings together insurance competitors to collaborate and share their expertise with each other and with their high net worth clients. It’s a unique environment since competitors don’t usually collaborate, but in this case, the motivation is consumer-centric. Their goal is to learn from one another, recognize important trends that affect consumers and improve the advice they give them.