Kidnap & Ransom insurance hotspots

16 July 2010

Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and Colombia tend to be the most publicised kidnap and ransom insurance hotspots, but recent activities have highlighted a number of new areas where kidnap threats are becoming more prevalent, including Haiti and Nigeria.

US travel alert for Haiti

The US State Department has issued a travel alert for Haiti, following the violent killings of four US citizens. In a statement it warned: “US citizens travelling to and residing in Haiti are reminded that there remains a persistent danger of violent crime, including armed robbery, homicide, and kidnapping.”

Peter Bellwood, Managing Director at Bellwood Prestbury commented: “This kind of warning would nullify any normal insurance cover. Anyone visiting Haiti should consider specialist insurance.

Kidnap and ransom threats in Nigeria

At the beginning of July, 12 foreign sailors were kidnapped off the Nigerian coast. Pirates boarded the German-flagged cargo ship BBC Palonia off the coast of the oil-rich Niger Delta near the Bonny River fairway. The pirates shot one crew member in the leg during the fight, before adducting the crew.

This attack comes after pirates in speedboats made a failed attack on a bulk carrier in the same area at the beginning of June. The International Maritime Bureau, which tracks piracy worldwide reported 28 attacks off Nigeria during 2009. It also believes at least another 30 pirate attacks went unreported, either due to companies worrying about having higher insurance premiums or concerns about advertising their security weaknesses.

Continuing threats in Guatemala, Mexico and Colombia

A report by the International Crisis Group entitled ‘Guatemala: Squeezed between crime and impunity’ published 22 June 2010, warns that the country is experiencing spiralling levels of violence and risks becoming a failed state.

Meanwhile the Mexican drug trafficking wars continue to spill into civilian life, representing a serious risk to anyone doing business in the major cities there.

The new government in Colombia is also being urged to tackle kidnap and insurgency threats. Silke Pfeiffer, Crisis Group’s Colombia/Andes Project Director says: “The incoming Santos administration should acknowledge that Colombia needs to implement an integrated conflict resolution strategy. Otherwise there is a serious risk that security consolidation efforts may be undermined”.

Bellwood Prestbury arranges kidnap & ransom insurance for companies and individuals all over the world.

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