Frequently Asked Questions
Have the number of kidnaps increased in recent years?
Overall yes, but in common with all risks affected by political environments the frequency varies depending upon how effective the local law enforcement is and what the political agenda of the government in power is at the time. This means that in some countries the frequency is currently up and in others it is down.
Trends do occur as one group often copies what another has done, but in general the more experienced kidnappers go for longer periods of detention and higher ransoms, while the more amateur will be content with a smaller but quicker payment. All criminal organisations need revenue and kidnapping is a simple and very effective way for them to raise substantial amounts.
What is the risk?
There are many reasons why some countries witness more kidnaps than others:
- The uneven spread of wealth throughout society
- The lack of capability and professionalism of the local law enforcement agencies
- The desire to launder money
- Endemic corruption
- The extent of organised crime
What types of group carry out this crime?
Criminals. Everything from large guerilla groups carrying out hugely sophisticated and long drawn out cases demanding high payments at one extreme, to ‘express’ cases carried out by opportunists in exchange for a fast return at the other extreme.
It is very important to have some understanding of who you are dealing with, and that this can change. It is quite common for instance for street gangs to carry out the abduction but then ‘sell on’ the victim to more organised groups that detain the victim and carry out the ransom negotiations. The policy provides the vital support of an experienced consultant to assist the family throughout, providing expert advice whatever the circumstances of the case.
Is it only the very wealthy who are potential targets?
Kidnappers will target people who they think are wealthy and whose lifestyle makes them easy to take. The very wealthy are generally more aware of the threat however, they have more influential connections and are able protect themselves which means that they tend to be harder targets. Clearly this does not mean that they are not at risk, but professionals or those with small family businesses make ideal targets as they tend to be more accessible.
Can I insure myself and/or family for individual trips?
Yes, but what you ought to be considering is your own safety. If the threat of kidnap is high, you should re-consider whether to go at all. It is very important when planning a trip to understand the risks involved in the area to be visited and that different areas within a single country may be more exposed to the risk of kidnap than others. Travelling by land in rural areas will always be more dangerous than flying for instance and the purpose of the trip could also make a difference.
Buying insurance does not take away the risk, but it would give your family or company assistance and support if the worst were to happen.
What is the cost of the insurance?
The cost of insurance varies according to the risks that the family or business may be exposed to. Before being given a quotation you will be asked to complete a short application form which will ask questions relating to:
- The countries lived in or to be visited
- The number of people to be insured
- The approximate assets of the family or company
- The sum insured required
- Whether there have been any previous threats or incidents
A copy of this application form is available on request. Please contact us if you would like us to send one to you.
What support does Griffin Underwriting provide when someone is kidnapped?
Your policy will have an emergency number on the front page. This is a direct line to a 24-hour emergency service provided by our appointed security company. As soon as they are notified of an incident advice will be given over the phone and where appropriate an experienced consultant who has handled previous kidnap cases will be sent to support the family and/or company of the person who has been taken.
Our appointed consultant is there to provide impartial, independent advice at a very difficult time, the costs for this are covered without limit under the policy.
This service is an enormous support to the family at a time when experienced help is critically important.
Why do I need a Consultant anyway? Why don’t I just pay the ransom as soon as I receive the demand to get the person who has been kidnapped home quickly?
Previous experience has shown that paying the first amount the kidnappers ask for gives them the impression that you could have paid more. This often means that they will not release the victim as you expect but instead will make further demands or they will kidnap other members of the family. The negotiation process is important as the kidnappers need to believe that they have got the maximum amount possible. When they think they can get no more, the victim will be released and the rest of the family will be less vulnerable to further threats.
Who decides to pay and how much?
It is ALWAYS the assured’s decision whether to pay and how much. This means that the assured is at liberty to make whatever decision they consider best in the circumstances in order to obtain a safe release.
In making the decision the assured will have to consider whether the payment is likely to secure the release or whether it is too fast or too high and might trigger a second demand. The consultant is there to give advice, help, strength and confidence throughout the negotiation process and Griffin Underwriting is there to reimburse the amounts paid for ransom and associated expenses. We are always available to clarify any questions regarding insurance coverage.
If the person who has been kidnapped is the breadwinner of the family, how do we survive while he or she is in captivity?
The policy pays 100% of a kidnapped or detained Insured Person’s gross salary during the period of the kidnap.
This includes all:
- Cost of living adjustments
- Foreign tax reimbursements
- Pension and/or welfare contributions and allowances which were contractually due at the time the kidnap occurred.
This means that the family is relieved of day to day financial pressure while the breadwinner is unable to work because of the crime.
Why is it important to be careful who I tell that I have bought Kidnap & Ransom insurance?
To avoid making yourself a potential target for criminals you should be careful not to draw attention to yourself and you should attempt not to advertise your wealth. The sums insured on kidnap policies represent considerable wealth to people in many countries so it is sensible to limit the number of people who know about the insurance policy.
Am I covered if someone I employ gave information or otherwise assisted the criminals to commit the crime?
When planning a kidnap the criminals will often obtain information about the daily routines of the targeted family. Sometimes the abductors put pressure on staff members to give them information. Some people are mistakenly concerned that if this happens the policy they have bought will become invalid. The policy in fact gives insurance cover for all the people named as being insured, wherever information used in the crime has been obtained. The only case where this may not be true is if the person assisting the criminals is also a person insured under the policy committing a fraud. However upsetting it may be that someone close to you has betrayed your trust, members of staff are vulnerable. If a kidnap has taken place through circumstances beyond the control of the assured, it remains a valid claim.
Does the policy provide support and rehabilitation after the incident?
A number of additional expenses are covered by the Policy including rest and rehabilitation expenses. These are on an indemnity basis however so please keep the receipts.
Other benefits are:
- The payments of the detained person’s salary and bonuses while he or she is detained
- Interest on loans raised to meet ransom demands
- Fees and expenses of security guards temporarily retained to protect the family
- Costs of communication, recording and other equipment necessary during the negotiation process
- Forensic analysis (if necessary)
- Medical expenses including cosmetic surgery necessary for the victim
- Any other reasonable expenses incurred with our approval