International Business Travel and Kidnappings
By Richard Capuro, August 23, 2016
More and more companies are now doing business internationally, which often requires frequent executive and employee travel. Because of this, the risk of being targeted and kidnapped is increasing worldwide.
It has been estimated that there were over 25,000 reported kidnappings globally, last year. Because they are largely unreported, the actual number is far greater. Companies generally keep kidnappings hushed up for the fear of instigating more incidents, and alarming staff. Centers for kidnapping include Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, India, Nigeria and the Middle East, with Mexico having the highest rate.
Kidnap and Ransom Insurance
For companies doing business in high-risk areas having kidnap-and-ransom insurance (K&R) is a must. A typical policy will cover financial losses directly resulting from the incident including ransom payment, extortion demands, business losses, medical and psychiatric bills, as well as providing public-relations firms and, most importantly, crisis-management consultants.
Policies can also cover the cost of a lawsuits filed by employees or relatives of employees that were kidnapped. K&R Coverage is limited to countries that the United States not imposed sanctions.
It is important to note that the ransom will not initially be paid by the insurer, but by the employer or family. Most policies cover interest payment on any loans taken out to satisfy the ransom. After the crisis is resolved the policy holder will be paid for the ransom and all other expenses covered by the policy up the dollar amount specified.
Unless you have provided for your own internal crisis-response team, or do not have insurance in place that will cover one, it will be necessary to hire a crisis-management consulting firm to take over. They will be in charge of negotiations, ransom delivery and provide evacuation and medical care, if necessary.
What Not to Do
If a member of your organization has been kidnapped in a foreign country, you should not notify the local authorities, which are often corrupt, and may even be working with the kidnappers. Even if they are not complicit, they may try to steal any ransom money.
Obviously, you do not want the media to be notified. Outside the organization, the victim’s family are the most likely to get the story out, and by doing so they are putting the lives of their love ones in danger. It is essential that they be instructed on the negative repercussions of such actions.
Do not directly negotiate with the kidnappers. If you do, never agree to a ransom payment without proof that the victim is still alive. It is best to let the let the professionals handle the rest.