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The threat of terrorism ‘is not going away’, travel firms were told at a counterterror seminar. Juliet Dennis reports

Travel companies must not be complacent about the threats of terrorism and company fraud, insurance and legal experts have warned.

Businesses were urged to consider taking out terrorism insurance to deal with situations that may affect staff or customers.

The advice came at an industry counterterror seminar last week, run by Prevention of Fraud in Travel (Profit), attended by agents, operators and cruise lines.

Alan Pattison, who runs the travel risk professionals division of insurance broker Tasker & Partners, said: “It’s easy to be blasé about the risks but the threat is not going away; we have new threats from other areas.”

He said companies with staff or offices in locations deemed high-risk, such as in cities, near transport hubs, shopping centres or government buildings, should consider taking out terrorism insurance, either as a standalone policy or as an add-on.

Travel businesses were also warned about the threat of fraud by company employees, often committed by a member of the finance team.

Rhys Griffiths, head of travel at law firm Fieldfisher, said: “Fraud is very common. We see it as a growth area: as companies get bigger and more complicated, it’s easier for fraudsters to hide. One good indicator is the behaviour of people: are they behaving irrationally or leading a lavish lifestyle that doesn’t correlate to their pay.”

Griffiths said the company must establish whether a fraud has been committed, how long it has been going on, if it is by a member of staff and whether commercial partners are affected.

“Companies need to set up an internal investigation team, usually with a senior executive taking the lead in decision-making and another involved on a practical basis,” he said.

Businesses also need legal advice and a forensic accountant to conduct a financial analysis.

“If you are confident there is a fraud, the question is whether to pursue the fraudster. The risk of adverse publicity may mitigate the cost of taking legal action,” he said.