Kidnap and ransom insurance – more than a policy

18 August 2014

Many people think that kidnap and ransom insurance is simply there to help pay a ransom should someone be taken hostage. In fact kidnap and ransom insurance is there to cover much more. In some cases, it could prove to be the difference between life and death. Rob Thompson explains:

“Our clients are usually people working for organisations operating in regions where kidnap and ransom is a known risk. Examples include oil executives working in the Niger Delta or maritime security and maritime crews working off the east and west coast of Africa. Others include international election observers in Sudan, news and camera teams in Libya, people working for NGOs and humanitarian projects in hotspots like Haiti and Eritrea and UN workers in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“The primary concern is not just the paying of a ransom, should it be needed, it’s engaging skilled negotiators who can work on behalf of the client to secure their release, regardless of whether a ransom is actually paid.

People often imagine that kidnappers are highly organised gangs. The reality is often far from the truth.

“People often imagine that kidnappers are highly organised gangs with well-honed methods of operation, like some sort of glossy movie. The reality is often far from the truth. They are often desperate, disorganised people taking action as a last resort. Sometimes the motivation is purely money. But it may be politically motivated with the hope of drawing attention to a particular activity or the plight of certain section of the population.

“Paying a ransom, (should that happen at all) is a long way down the line of a complex chain of events during which things can go wrong very quickly. Kidnappers are jumpy. Victims don’t know how to behave or what to do. Making contact from remote locations can be highly complicated. Establishing trust on both sides is a challenge. Local authority involvement and local policies towards kidnappers can put the safety of any hostage at risk.

Small changes in behaviours and heightened awareness can ward off a potential kidnap attempt.

“Kidnap and ransom insurance can help from before the policyholder even leaves. We can organise safety briefings that can bring about small changes in behaviours and heightened awareness that can avert a potential kidnap attempt. Varying routines, changes to travel routes, looking for certain vehicles or being aware of observers, are all simple but effective strategies. 

“Kidnap and ransom experts can explain the current situation on the ground. Where to avoid. What the political background is. How previous kidnappings have been organised and what the motivations have been. Properly briefed, people have a much better chance to stay out of trouble.

“Should the worst happen, kidnap and ransom insurance engages experts in the region who understand the political background, the culture, the local terrain and the previous modus operandi of local kidnappers. Skilled negotiators know who to make contact, how to put the safety of the hostage at the forefront of negotiations and how to minimise the risk of violence. It’s this kind of intervention that can and does save lives.”

If you have people working in politically unstable regions or known kidnap regions, or you are an individual contractor or business traveller considering a visit to one of these regions, kidnap and ransom insurance may be a wise investment. From as little as £500 for a single trip or £800 for annual cover, you might find it also costs less than you imagine

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Categories: Kidnap & ransom, Oil & Gas, Eritrea insurance

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