One concern for companies doing business outside of the U.S. is the threat of kidnapping. This is considered one of the worst things that can happen to an organization, illustrating the need to carry kidnap insurance in cases where a kidnapping and possible ransom scenario exists. If a killing or injury were to result from such actions it would represent considerable stress for both the company and the victim, including family and friends.

The victim has the worst and most difficult time during the experience, suffering dislocation, threat, potential physical trauma, boredom and loneliness, and lingering uncertainty. Meanwhile back home, co-workers and managers imagine the worst, and
vicariously experience the victim’s situation.

It creates an unwanted distraction from their normal routine, which affects the company in a negative way, especially for the managers in the crisis team responding to the case, and other co-workers who live under a cloud of negativity and worry, which can result in self-doubt, guilt and paranoia throughout the company.

Statistics on kidnapping of personnel in foreign countries are quite robust and oftentimes the frequency is often under-reported. Many cases occur in places and situations where the local authorities would prefer to sweep these cases under the rug, and/or are handled so discretely that the case never makes it into the media.

The group responsible for this type of crime might snatch one individual and quietly seek the best possible deal, or they might hi-jack or corral a whole team, perhaps as a way of negotiating for the release of some of its members. But they often actively seek victims as part of a “self-financing” strategy. In any case, foreign workers are a good target set since they are often ignorant, likely insured, and their employers generally have unlimited resources.

Perpetrators often co-opt or coerce insiders to help with the planning. For example, they search for intelligence on who is most vulnerable, security procedures, time windows, etc. This is usually aided by surveillance. The operation is planned, the victim is snatched, and sequestered in safe houses, (the more and more frequently rotated the better), but sometimes one location has to suffice.

The ideal outcome will have these traits:

• The ransom is paid and the victim(s) released

• The victim is returned unharmed, and he/she recovers and is able to deal with ongoing emotional scars

• The sense of vulnerability is removed from family and colleagues, and they end up with a sense of empowerment, and

• The perpetrators are apprehended and go to prison for their crimes

Many firms deal with these types of risks and carry the proper amounts of kidnap insurance for their most exposed employees.