Kidnap & ransom insurance – where is it most needed?

14 April 2011

Kidnap & ransom insurance can protect individuals anywhere in the world, but where are you at most risk?

Bellwood Prestbury’s kidnap & ransom insurance experts say that although Mexico pretty much tops the charts for kidnapping incidents, the need for kidnap & ransom insurance is more closely influenced by your role in the country you intend to visit.

Recent reports suggest that kidnap cases in Mexico have increased from 483 incidents in 2007, to 1,142 cases in the first nine months of 2010. Deaths due to kidnap and extortion have also escalated from 99 in 2009, to 209 in 2010.

These grim statistics only tell part of the story. Although there are incidents of people working for western companies being kidnapped, much of the reported activity is related to drug cartels or involves relatives of wealthy Mexican nationals. Whilst it may be wise to organise kidnap insurance if your work takes you to certain regions or involves high profile activity, Mexico in itself is not generally a high risk kidnap country for westerners.

It’s worth noting however, that the Foreign & Commonwealth Office advises anyone visiting Mexico to be cautious about ‘express kidnapping’, where criminals take victims to ATM’s and force them to withdraw money under the threat of violence.

Central and South American countries with recent kidnap activity include Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Argentina, Brazil and Colombia. Again the risks you run will depend on why you are there, which specific regions you are visiting, and how you conduct yourself while you are there.

In Africa there are a number of high profile kidnap regions, including pirate activity off the coast of Somalia, which continues to be a constant threat to commercial vessels and individuals sailing in the Gulf of Aden.

Recent attacks on French nationals in Niger and Mali, by groups reportedly linked to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), has prompted the French government to advise its nationals to stay away. Kidnap & ransom insurance in neighbouring Nigeria continues to be considered an essential part of international cover by many companies with European executives posted there.

A recent incident involving the kidnapping of a South African security consultant working from an exploration company has highlighted the dangers in DR Congo. The lawlessness across much of Sudan makes kidnap and ransom a recognised risk there too.

In the Middle East, the government of Yemen recently reported foiling a kidnap attempt on Czech tourists visiting the ancient sites near Sana.

In Asia, British nationals visiting relatives have been targeted in Pakistan with ransom demands made to family back home. India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar (Burma,) Malaysia and the Philippines have all reported kidnap activity over the past few months.

If you are visiting an area where kidnap is known to be prevalent or you represent a high profile business in a high risk area, kidnap & ransom insurance is a sensible precaution. It not only provides for a ransom payment; it also introduces expert security consultants and go-betweens, who can save lives and bring about successful outcomes quickly.

Whether you represent a company or have an individual contract or leisure trip, you are always welcome to call our knowledgeable team to discuss your kidnap & ransom insurance requirements: +44 (0) 1242 584 558.

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