Kidnap for ransom is a global threat that is happening not only with travel to Latin America, but increasingly with travel worldwide. The number of reported kidnappings has doubled since 2008. High-risk areas include the Middle East, Latin America, Eastern Europe and Asia. Companies with international operations and employees are often the most concerned about kidnappings; however, anyone traveling to a country with high kidnapping rates may be at risk.
It is now more important than ever for travelers to be conscious of their safety and surroundings. Wealthy families and businesses are prime targets for kidnappers, and the emotional and financial impact can be devastating.
Importantly, kidnappers are coming up with new schemes and evolving methods for extorting victims. The term “express kidnapping” has been coined to describe a scenario where the kidnapper forces a person at an ATM to empty his or her bank account in order to gain release. This can happen to any traveler anywhere in the world. When preparing to travel abroad, you should determine what type of coverage you may need. To do this, work with a trusted advisor who can provide the specialization and insight needed to reduce this type of exposure.
A security firm can also provide advice and assistance when you are preparing for international travel. Your insurance broker should have a partnership with a trusted security firm to provide this assistance. Its security professionals will review the risk depending on the travel destination and provide a comprehensive report.
With the threat of terrorism and kidnappings increasing, consult with a qualified advisor before traveling to a high-risk area.
To further mitigate your risk, you can attend cross-cultural, kidnap-prevention, conflict-management, self-defense and survival-training classes. Also recommended is the purchase of kidnap/ransom and extortion insurance, to provide additional peace of mind.
A qualified risk advisor can recommend the best coverage. You can get a valuable combination of coverage and services with a kidnap/ransom and extortion policy. First and foremost, these policies provide broad protection from the financial losses associated with kidnapping and/or extortion threats.
Depending on the policy, coverage may include ransom payments, hostage-negotiating fees, consulting fees, loss of income compensation, interest on bank loans taken out to pay ransom, informant rewards, medical/psychiatric care and rest and rehabilitation costs. Policy limits will vary, and the premium will depend on the risk level of the geographic area of travel. Additionally, policies may require that the policyholder not reveal the coverage’s existence, to prevent that knowledge from getting out and actually encouraging a kidnapping or extortion plot.
By using extra caution and preparation, you can avoid falling victim to a kidnapping scheme. An important way to lessen your risk is to keep a low profile. It is extremely important to “blend in” and not appear wealthy. Keep in constant communication with your family or business associates by using your smartphone. And while in a foreign country, prepare transportation options in advance so you are not caught off guard or unaware. Change your routine and vary your route in case you are being watched or observed as a potential target.
A qualified insurance broker can tailor a policy to protect you and your family, depending on each travel situation. Travel protection is especially important when visiting a country with high kidnapping rates. Your family can be protected from the risk should the situation arise. With the threat of terrorism and kidnappings increasing, it is important to consult with a qualified advisor before traveling to a high-risk area.