When I was little the scariest thing Mom could come up with to keep me in the bed was the ability of the boggieman to get me if I got out. Sometimes it worked, but the boogieman didn’t show up either way. The parents of today could scare with the “kidnapper”. Sadly, unlike the boogiemans’ rules of engagement, the kidnapper sometimes does show up and can grab the children while they are still in bed.
It’s not just children. Keeping people safe while they are living, working or studying anywhere in the world has created a large niche product for insurance: Kidnap and Ransom insurance. Once used primarily to protect business executives and wealthy families, K&R has evolved to meet fast changing risks encountered by anyone who lives, works, travels, studies or volunteers in potentially risky environments.
As I said, it could happen all over the world, including Latin America (defined here as South America, Central America and Mexico). While many insurance professionals know about some of the kidnapping risks, such as the threat of drug-related violence in parts of Mexico, other as less well known.
An example: “express kidnapping”. Victims are abducted and forced to withdraw money from their bank accounts via ATM. They are “express kidnapping” because the victims are typically released after a day or two of withdrawing the maximum daily amount from their account. This is much more common in Latin America than Europe, Africa, the Middle East and other regions of the world.
In Latin America, similar to other areas of the world, proper preparation starts with teaching visitors and nationals (who may be at even greater risk because their habits are more predictable and because they’re seen as having ties to deep-pocketed corporations) about the local environment.
Students, for example, may be used to waking around U.S. campuses with their phones out, texting or making calls. Carrying around laptops is commonplace here; in some places, it can be an invitation to theft. Similarly, wearing expensive jewelry or giving the impression of being wealthy can make someone a target.
In addition to awareness of one’s surroundings, it’s important to know how to get around safely in Latin America without becoming a target. Are cabs safe? Is public transportation a good idea? Is one hotel safer to stay in than another?
Be aware and prepare as much as possible. It is a sad reporting, but kidnap and ransom insurance is an important part of that preparation.