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Express kidnappings focus on foreign travelers.

Byline: Eric Starost

Express kidnappings are one of the leading threats travelers face abroad.

These kidnappings are a method of abduction where kidnappers demand a small, yet immediate ransom in exchange for release. Mark Carney, president & CEO of Tokio Marine HCC -- MIS Group says students, missionaries, business professionals, and children all run the risk of being kidnapped, depending on the region they visit.

According to Epoch Times, visiting a Latin American country puts you at a higher risk for express kidnapping, and countries like India, Libya, and Lebanon all have high rates of kidnapping.

"Foreign travelers and their families are often prime targets, especially in places where low or non-existent security poses a threat. Crisis response coverage may assist policyholders financially if they are kidnapped, if any of their personal belongings are damaged or taken in the process, and provide experts to mitigate crisis situations and ensure a safe return," Carney said.

Reducing the risk of being kidnapped

There are several ways to reduce the risk of being kidnapped. Doing things like maintaining a low profile; never oversharing information in public or on social media; taking credible, well-marked transportation in foreign countries; and not making friends with strangers are a few of Carney's suggested best practices when traveling abroad.

Additionally, Carney says no matter what country you visit, the U.S. Department of State offers an invaulable resource for travelers, allowing them to view crime rates and travel warnings.

Benefits of crisis response insurance

Crisis response coverage, or kidnap and ransom insurance as it is sometimes referred to, provides policyholders protection for ransom-related fees and personal belongings including items being carried or transported at the time of an express kidnapping, and possessions surrendered during the course of an express or other type of kidnapping.

Fees may also include actions like negotiating a safe return and ransom if one is demanded. Depending on where a policy is purchased, it is possible to receive anywhere from $10,000 to $50 million dollars in coverage, and in some cases the kidnapping could qualify for more. Many plans offering crisis response coverage also offer 24/7 access to an experienced crisis response team.

Who might benefit from crisis response coverage?

Students, missionaries, students and business professionals would all equally benefit from crisis response coverage, particularly because of their tendency to stand out and look like tourists. Missionaries may not be aware of dangerous areas, making them easy targets for radicals and political activists, and children can often stray away from parents, greatly increasing their risk of being kidnapped. Lastly, business professionals can stand out due to their attire, fast-paced lifestyle, and constant use of technology in places where locals may not have regular access to it.

Leaving home to see the world can be an exciting yet scary time because of the risks inherent in foreign travel.

"A kidnapping is a terrible experience that no one is ever fully prepared to handle. It is beneficial to have access to an experienced team of crisis response experts who will keep you and your family informed while managing negotiations and finding a resolution to ensure a safe return," said Jim Hutton, chief security officer for On Call International, a leading travel risk management company owned by Tokio Marine HCC.

While insurance cannot mitigate all of the threats, it is a key component of an effective risk management strategy, and having the right kind of insurance can offer some peace of mind.

Eric (Ric) Starost is assistant vice president of marketing for Tokio Marine HCC -- MIS Group, a leader in travel medical and international student insurance headquartered in Indianapolis, Ind.

Related: 8 steps to negotiate kidnap & ransom demands 3 types of insurance to consider when traveling abroad Virtual kidnapping: What you need to know
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Publication:Property and Casualty 360
Date:Sep 13, 2016
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