The World today is a very dangerous place. When people leave the country, they seem to consider everything, but the security of themselves and their family. Nothing is more important than a kidnapping insurance policy if you are living or working in certain countries abroad. Kidnap and ransom insurance is much more than just buying a lump sum ransom “benefit.” You are buying the expert advice and consultation that is most responsible for saving lives!

Kidnap & Ransom Insurance for Individuals

In the past, only the largest of corporations could afford a dedicated kidnap insurance policy or ransom insurance policy. Today we write single individuals and families traveling or working abroad. The number of countries labeled as “highly dangerous” for foreigners to be living in or traveling to is larger than at any time in history. Most of Latin America is not “safe” for Americans, Brits, or Canadians. Most of Africa is extremely risky. Obviously, the Middle East is the same. If you are considering a expatriate kidnapping insurance policy, there are many reasons you simply cannot assume that your employer has everything covered properly.

Expats are kidnap & ransom targets

If you are an expatriate living outside your country of citizenship you should consider purchasing an expatriate kidnap and ransom insurance policy, especially if your family is living with you abroad. Kidnap and ransom insurance is no longer just for the “worst of the worst” places for expatriates to live like Bogota Colombia, Mexico City Mexico, Manila Philippines, or Kabul Afghanistan. Expatriates today are “over-confident” thinking their large employer has everything taken care of.

This can be a false assumption. We have interviewed risk managers at even the largest of companies and many do not have a thorough understanding of what they would do if an employee was abducted. If this line of insurance existed at the company, who the security consultant is and how to contact them in an emergency was also not as clear as it should be. The health, safety and security of your family is too important to just “assume” your employer has everything taken care of. Have they given you detailed instructions on what to do if you were abducted or a family member was abducted (or threatened with expatriate extortion?) Today, personal or family plans are essential.

Abductions of students abroad

Every year, thousands students leave America, Canada, the U.K., and EU to study abroad for 9 month or longer. It is estimated that 95% of these students have no kidnap and ransom insurance or even a good emergency security plan they can use in an emergency. There is no better example of “head in the sand syndrome” and “it won’t happen to my family” than when we see the thousands of students studying in Latin America, Africa, or the Middle East without K & R Insurance.

If any kind of kidnap ransom and extortion insurance is provided through higher education we ask the same question we ask all expatriates. How effective is the insurance? What is the plan to hire a local security consultant that would need to intervene locally to negotiate a kidnap release? Almost no parent has vetted these programs and every hour counts. We assure you, there are BIG differences in all of these programs and “just because the university is providing something” does not mean it is adequate for the country location of your study abroad student. Please contact us for details.

Frequent travel advisories

When considering kidnap and ransom insurance for the hundreds of thousands of Americans, Canadians, EU, and Australian travelers this group is the MOST exposed. First, most frequent travelers have no idea that they can buy a personal policy that meets their kidnap and ransom insurance needs. As we have stated in the past, kidnap & ransom insurance is not just for corporate VPs at the large Fortune 500 companies.

All of these travelers should be considering travel insurance for kidnapping as well: A small firm that sends 2 people abroad several months a year into the Middle East to service aquariums. A machine tool mechanic that has to visit Venezuela every few months as an individual to perform service. Even students living abroad for just 8 or 9 months a year should secure high quality kidnap and ransom programs that can save lives.

When things go wrong

There have been thousands of expatriates living abroad and global travelers that have been introduced to the idea of kidnap and ransom insurance but either “put off the consideration” or succumbed to the “it won’t happen to me” group-think, THAT WERE LATER ABDUCTED. Not every international kidnapping is a long and drawn out 2 month process like we saw in the movie “Proof of Life” with Russell Crow. Some kidnappers only hold the victim for 24 or 48 hours and if simple demands are made, people can be released unharmed. Even more of a quick hit, the “express kidnapping” can be only a few hours in the back of a van as the ATM card and credit cards are maxed out.

It’s far too late to wish a kidnapping insurance policy had been purchased after a kidnapping. Since no individual expatriate has the expertise to develop an emergency security plan a kidnap and ransom insurance policy does two essential things: 1) it provides a large ransom benefit but more importantly 2) it gives the expatriate and the family an action plan. Who can I call at 2 a.m. How long will it take the consultant to arrive at my doorstep? 24 hour response time is essential!

Expat kidnap & ransom policy details to consider

When examining a kidnapping insurance policy you must know what you are buying because there are large differences among policies, with the features being the essential elements for expatriate security. We have isolated the critical areas and have outlined what is most important in each section.

The policy benefits

The part of kidnap insurance everyone easily understands. This is the amount of insurance that can be paid to kidnappers in order to secure the safe release of an abducted expatriate or kidnapped international traveler. $500,000 USD is the minimum benefit we recommend, but in most cases we do not recommend a client carry more than $1,000,000 USD, unless the person in question is a very high net worth or public figure. (We can explain why a massive ransom benefit is not necessary for most.) We remind clients there is FAR MORE to a kidnap and ransom insurance policy than just the benefit offered.

Does the client have to “front” the ransom money to international kidnappers and later seek reimbursement from the insurance company? Can you raise $250,000 in one week? Amazing, but many polices work this way and don’t pay kidnappers directly. Beware of them.

Behind the policy should be an international executive security company

If a carrier offers a $50,000,000 expatriate ransom benefit, it’s meaningless until you know who is behind the benefit. If an expatriate is abducted in Mexico City, who will provide the expertise to get them back? How soon will they be “at your doorstep” offering assistance? The annual defense budget of the United States is meaningless without competent U.S. marines to respond immediately. Think of the consulting piece this way. The best consultants can have someone ready to intervene SAME DAY in the major hot spot cities and this can SAVES LIVES.

Is the consulting company’s cost, which can be up to $3,000 US per day, included in the kidnap and ransom insurance coverage? Clients that have a $5,000,000 ransom benefit without a policy that also pays the consulting costs is not a good policy. Some policies have a nice “benefit” but do not pay the consulting cost. Avoid them.

What are the insured events?

Where a client can get assistance from the kidnap and ransom insurance carrier? In other words, are they just limited to kidnapping and global traveler abduction or do they include all of the following benefits: extortion, express kidnap, wrongful detention, expatriate disappearance, hostage crisis, child abduction, express hijacking, legal defense and general threat. If a note is slipped under your door in the Presidente Inter-Continental Hotel in Mexico City that says, “if you don’t close your office, people will die,” you don’t want to find out at that time you have no assistance for matters other than “kidnap.”

Who are the covered persons as defined in the insurance policy?

Is an individual policy covering the entire family? Are corporate policies limited only to the individual employee? Again, there are differences among policies.

Does the plan have any additional benefits?

Does the kidnap and ransom insurance policy include other features and benefits? Some carriers now offer some or all of the following to expand coverage and benefits: medical benefit after abduction, psychological counseling after abduction, evacuation or repatriation out of country, assault expense, legal fees, cash transfer, and even AD&D.

What is not covered?

Last, but certainly NOT least, look closely at the exclusions. In their basic forms these are still insurance policies. Even the best insurance policies have exclusions. Pay close attention to excluded countries. You would not be the first individual to be under a kidnap & ransom insurance policy only to find out the host country is excluded! Look at the other basic exclusions.