More than 15,000 to 20,000 people are kidnapped every year all across the globe- but these days, they’re probably not who you think they are.
While top-level executives and wealthy individuals are still a prime target for kidnapping and ransom-related crime, a shift in tactics to what travel security experts call “express kidnapping” – in which non-executive employees, solo travelers and individuals are kidnapped frequently and traded for lower amounts of money – has widened the net of potential victims.
It has also made kidnap and ransom insurance a more pressing coverage concern for independent agents working with casual business and personal travelers.
“Kidnappers are now taking five to 10 people in a week and asking for $5,000 to $10,000 rather than $2 million. It’s more quantity versus quality – they’re operating like a business,” David Boggs, sales manager with travel insurance firm Seven Corners, told Insurance Business America
. “We’re seeing inquiries now across the board – from individuals, business people who travel and even a few in the missionary market.”
Boggs, an industry veteran who has worked in the kidnapping and ransom space for 13 years, says many insurance agents are not yet aware of the “huge opportunity” that exists in the market. When commercial or personal lines consumers are traveling internationally, or even along international borders, agents can suggest a standalone kidnap and ransom policy along with travel medical or accident and health.
Roughly four to six companies, including Seven Corners, sell these policies. Most provide coverage for ransom, security exchange fees and legal costs associated with kidnapping. Many require submission and underwriting, though Seven Corners provides guaranteed-issue policies for travel to most countries.
Such insurance should particularly be considered when the client is traveling in kidnapping hotspots, including the Arizona-Mexico border, Africa and Central America.
Crisis management policies, which provide trained services during political threat, natural disasters or violent crime, are also a good idea, Boggs said.
“These are situations agents need to be aware of and clients need to be aware of when traveling internationally,” he said. “When we travel, we open ourselves up to greater risk because we let our guard down, but the truth is that at any moment, something can occur.
“It’s best to help our clients be protected because if something does happen, who will they call?”
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