The COVID-19 pandemic has made at least one thing clear: the risks for business travellers are on the rise. However, it remains interesting for SMEs to extend their radius of activity, as global sales channels offer financial opportunities. But it is advisable to take a few precautions.

Business travellers are usually focused on their task and do not think too much about their own risks before taking a trip – if it doesn’t actually involve Iraq, Syria or other conflict zones or if, unlike recently, a pandemic breaks out, there are still the risks of infections and of borders being closed.

Companies often neglect their legal duty of care. This was the case with Mr L. who was meant to be taken from the airport to his hotel by taxi in an Eastern European country. At a red light, two men got into the vehicle all of a sudden and threatened him with a weapon. Mr L. abruptly realised the seriousness of the situation. He was kept at a remote location for five hours, beaten and forced to disclose passwords and the PIN codes for his credit cards – in what is known as an “express kidnapping”.

In South America, the perpetrators often sell the victim on to criminal organisations if they consider that this would be “lucrative”. The hostage then has a higher going rate and the holdup becomes directly an abduction with a ransom demand.

Professional crisis management plays a major role in an abduction where a person’s life is at stake. Only very few companies have their own corporate security or experience with these sorts of incidents.

Kidnap & Ransom insurance

Travel safety means being prepared and planning the first steps before you start your trip. Country information from authorities and private service providers is available online on different platforms. They mainly provide a good general overview of the relevant risks, but are not a “cure-all”. It is very important for the traveller to remain alert, and this can be ensured through travel safety training with advice on assessing realistic dangers, cultural factors, what to do in the event of criminal attacks, and how the traveller can personally detect and defend himself against attacks.

Kidnap and ransom policies not only cover payment of the ransom, but also the costs of crisis consultants, recovery or evacuation and other additional services. As part of their duty of care, insurers also sometimes offer preventive training by professionals or preparatory guidance for travellers. The trend within the DACH region is clearly moving towards crisis consultants from German-speaking countries. Their understanding of economic, legal, linguistic and cultural requirements guarantees a reasonable basis for cooperation in a spirit of trust. A 24/7 crisis hotline helps with managing unpredictable events.

Andreas Radelbauer
Corporate Trust
T +43 1 318 0151 0

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Paul Spittau

Head of Group Carrier Relations & Insurance Mediation

T +43 664 537 17 42