expat network

High Risk Insurance For An Increasingly Volatile World

high risk insurance
Standard travel insurance does not generally cover you for high risk areas, such as warzones, crisis and disaster relief zones and specialist providers have developed to meet the need.  Kidnap and ransom can happen anywhere, but there are higher risks in some areas, and policies to support you and pay the ransom, if the need arises can be vital.

Global business travel spend doubled in the 15 years to 2016 according to the Global Business Travel Association and is set to further increase to $1.7 trillion by 2022.  This growth despite the ever more sophisticated options to communicate across the internet is driven by globalisation and the need for many businesses to take advantage of the opportunities from emerging markets.  As these emerging markets become more important so the number of people travelling to areas where the risks are greater increases.

Travelling abroad to remote parts of the world can be a rich and rewarding experience and very important to many businesses. However, the associated risks need to be identified, understood and managed.


Understanding the risks

The risks can be driven by the greater exposure to disease or the greater dangers of injury as well as the fact that healthcare provision and infrastructure is likely to be more limited.  Thus if a health issue arises there can be an urgent need to give the patient access to medical expertise and to good quality care.  This can require air ambulance and medical evacuation services.

The costs of this can be enormous.  Even a few days in hospital will quickly mount up and the costs of medical evacuation or an air ambulance anywhere let alone in a remote part of the world will be extreme.

Where the location is considered high risk by their government at home it is likely to be excluded from standard travel policies.  War zones, crisis and disaster relief zones are areas of particular concern.  Journalists, humanitarian aid workers, conservation, charitable and other works as well as contractors are often those most likely to be exposed to these risk areas.

There are more than 40,000 kidnappings globally a year with over 40% of kidnappings being professionals and business personnel or their dependents according to Voyager Insurance Services.  Most kidnappings are carried out to demand a ransom and most victims are only released safely following the payment of a ransom.

Kidnap and ransom can happen anywhere in the world, particularly if you are working for a high profile organisation and are a prominent member, but the risks can be very high in some parts of the world.  Extreme hotspots are well known, including Syria, Yemen, Libya and Afghanistan, but many parts of Central and South America, Africa and Asia are regarded as high risk.  The Red24 Global Kidnapping Threat Map 2018 sets out the current assessment of risks.


Coverage Available

The coverage available for high risk locations is provided by specialists who have access to the experience needed, knowledge of the local conditions and options as well as local contacts on the ground who can deal with a medical emergency in often remote and sometimes hostile environments.   The policy will generally include access to a 24/7 emergency helpline to provide you with the advice you need as well as emergency access to air ambulance and medical evacuation options to take you to appropriate medical facilities.

When travelling to areas with a risk of kidnap and ransom it is advisable to make sure you understand the risks, by keeping up to date with your government advice (FCO in the UK, State Department in the US).  A risk assessment prior to travel, ideally informed by a specialist consultant should also be carried out together with obtaining advice on how to reduce the risks and how to act in the event of becoming a victim.  It also sensible to avoid drawing attention to your plans where possible.

Kidnap and ransom policies are designed to cover the costs of the ransom as well as the costs of crisis management and consultancy required to manage the negotiations. They will also cover the costs of repatriation and