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By: Joe Gleason, AHT


Among the phrases that get used often in today’s global operational and travel risk management community is “best practice.” Whether it’s a general approach, like building risk awareness, or a more tangible measure, like the use of itinerary based travel tracking, these trends establish what is being done or is generally recognized as what should be done to enhance risk management.

Why do best practices matter? Along with peer benchmarking, best practices can help guide the reasonableness of measures being taken – a key tenant of meeting duty of care obligations.  Best practices most often reflect experienced, informed measures, systems or resources with a proven record of success – important for managing risk and protecting personnel but also for protecting the organization from claims of having inappropriate measures in place.

Recently, I’ve been involved with two efforts to capture and benchmark data and best practices within the international aid and development/NGO community:

FIRST: AHT’s 2019 NGO/International Aid and Development Organizations Risk and Insurance Benchmarking Report is fresh off the presses. In addition to the annual insurance benchmarking data, the report includes information about psycho-social health and local national insurance practices.


    • The value of psycho-social support and trauma care has gotten increased attention in recent years but remains an evolving practice in the community. In AHT’s survey, 50% of respondents include psycho-social support within their crisis management plans, and only 22% include culturally specific psychosocial support.
    • For 88% of survey respondents, local standards, practice and legal requirements drive decisions around insurance for local national employees. That said, broader duty of care obligations are factors, with 85% including local national staff in their Business Travel Accident coverage.


SECOND: The International NGO Safety and Security Organization’s Member Survey Report was released earlier this year. With 122 respondents representing security management personnel across a range of types and sizes of NGOs/international aid and development organizations, the survey captures data about a range of best practices in use, including:

    • Travel risk management systems
      80% of respondents are providing pre-departure briefings, destination risk information and 24/7 traveler support.
    • Policies
      While 95% reported having safety and security policies in place, only 46% reported having cybersecurity policies in place.
    • Training
      Topping the list respondents reported having in place were:

      Personal security – 64%
      Traveler safety – 60%
      Critical Incident/Crisis Management – 56%Gender based training remains an emerging practice at 33%.
      Full disclosure: As readers of this blog are likely aware, I work for AHT and am on the board of INSSA. 

When exploring best practices and benchmarking, it’s important to remember:

  • Best practices and benchmarking are a spectrum, not fixed data points. In all cases, solutions need to fit the organization and its risk profile and tolerances. For example, preparing staff and travelers to manage risk through education, training and information is an established best practice, but how it’s applied may differ. For an organization traveling to conflict or other extreme risk environments, training might include instructor-led Hostile Environment Awareness Training. However, for those traveling to low-moderate risk locations, an online general Travel Risk Awareness course may be more appropriate.
  • Like the risk environment, best practices evolve. Ten years ago, itinerary-based travel tracking was an innovative approach, five years ago it was a good to have, and now, it is a more established best practice.


Best practices and benchmarking are tools for decision making, not a simple answer to “what should I do about x.” And, should organizations take a specific measure or have an insurance limit just because other organizations do? Of course not. Best practices and benchmarking are reference points that could be considered and contextualized to guide decision making for each organization.