Most British expats who move overseas live in established destinations such as Spain, France or Australia where the crime levels are broadly similar to the UK and there is no particular risk associated with living there. However, as companies expand their business globally and start to operate in high-risk countries, there is the possibility that staff could be sent to work anywhere in Asia, the Middle East or Africa, where crime levels can be higher and kidnap of Western workers is a real risk. For these companies and their employees, kidnap and ransom insurance is a must.
Where is considered risky?
Around 20,000 kidnappings are reported every year, and it is probably fair to say that the number unreported is higher still. Many areas of the world are considered very high risk for kidnapping, including post-war areas like Afghanistan or Iraq, but many other areas such as Eastern Europe, the Caribbean and South America have relatively high kidnap rates too. Anyone who is planning on travelling through these areas for business or pleasure, or living there permanently is well advised to take out a kidnap and ransom policy. Certain industries are more likely to suffer kidnap attempts than others, partly because they have employees who are better paid than average and partly because they often operate in high risk areas. These industries can include mining, construction, oil and gas or financial services but no company or industry is completely exempt from having their employees falling prey to kidnappers.
Individual or Business
Many businesses operating in these high-risk areas have corporate policies which cover employees, whether they are visiting short term or there for a longer period. In addition, many wealthy expats feel more secure with their own policy to protect them and their families. It should be remembered that someone who is not considered particularly wealthy by UK standards may find themselves a huge target when local standards of living are taken into account. Many large providers of expatriate or travel insurance have specific kidnap and ransom policies and these should be compared carefully before any decisions are made.
What Policies Cover
In basic terms, a kidnap and ransom policy covers the policyholder for any loss associated with being held hostage for ransom. The policy will typically cover any payments to the kidnappers, as well as compensation for any loss due to disruption of business, evacuation and transport home and protection for family members. In addition, having a kidnap and ransom policy gives the policyholders access to expert advice and negotiators, so should the worst happen, the family have a crisis response team on the end of the telephone or on the ground immediately. Insurers who are experts in this areas use specialist companies who can give advice on risk reduction strategies, and can work more effectively than individuals to have the kidnap victim released as quickly as possible.