Kenya insurance – changing FCO advice

12 October 2011

The increase in the area covered by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) travel warning in Kenya may invalidate some travel insurance policies.

The tragic events of 10th September 2011 which saw a British national, David Tebbutt, murdered and his wife, Judith Tebbutt, abducted from the luxury Kiwayu Safari Village hotel, raised the spectre of kidnap and ransom in Kenya, close to the Somali border. It is suspected that Mrs Tebbutt was abducted by speedboat by the group al-Shabaab, and that she may now be held by the group inside Somalia.

This incident was followed by a second kidnapping, this time of a French national, Marie Dedieu, on 1st October 2011, from her home on Manda island off Kenya’s north coast. The incident followed the same modus operandi, with a fast boat landing on the beach. Again, al-Shabaab has been accused of being behind the kidnapping.

The previous FCO travel warning advised against all but essential travel to within 30 kilometres of Kenya’s border with Somalia. The new travel warning extends this zone to 150 kilometres, which would include both sites of recent abductions.

The FCO is now advising:

“We advise against all but essential travel to coastal areas within 150km of the Somali border, following two attacks by armed gangs in small boats against beach resorts in the Lamu area on 11 September and 1 October 2011. This advice will be kept under review. Both attacks were on beach-front properties, with two Westerners kidnapped and one murdered. Beach-front accommodation in that area and boats off the coast are vulnerable.”

Will standard travel insurance for Kenya still be valid?
If you are planning to visit the border area of Kenya within the 150km FCO warning area, then it is highly likely that standard travel insurance for Kenya will not be valid. Bellwood Prestbury can help to arrange specialist international travel insurance that will be valid in this area.

If you are heading to other areas of Kenya, insurance should be unaffected but be aware that some policies can take a warning in a specific region and apply it for the whole region. Check with your insurer before you leave.

Do you now need kidnap and ransom insurance for Kenya?
The need for kidnap insurance is affected by many factors. If you are a westerner or represent a western company and you are working or travelling near to the Kenyan border with Somalia, you should consider kidnap and ransom insurance.

Our team would be happy to advise you on any aspect of Kenya insurance, particularly if you do need to travel near the border with Somalia. Take a look at our Kenya insurance page, call us on +44 (0) 1242 584 558 or email any query you may have.

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