Tuesday, February 16, 2010


According to a recent article in The Australian, kidnapping as a new business venture is on the rise with 30-40,000 kidnappings estimated worldwide. There was a similar article in the Financial Times late last month. Depressing.

The business of kidnapping
By Joe Kelly, The Australian, February 17, 2010

John Chase is an expert in kidnap and ransom cases. The 48-year-old comes from an intelligence background, has more than 17 years' experience and is the managing director of crisis response at AKE group, which specialises in preparing people to enter some of the most hostile places on the planet. [...]

"There has to be a point where government's go to the families and say to those people very honestly, 'Look, we as governments cannot help you, but if you hire one of these internationally recognised companies you may be able to secure the release of your loved ones.' The hostages just went through such trauma in those first 339 days. It's not right."
Tales of the hostage negotiators
By James Boxell, Financial Times, January 21, 2010
As well as ransoms, insurance policies also cover psychological counselling for victims and families, media consultancy on reputation risk and the salary of replacement workers.
PS This is getting down into the weeds...but both of the above articles are in relation to hostage negotiators hired by insurance underwriters when a policyholder has been kidnapped. In other words, a company carries Kidnap & Ransom (K&R) on its employees working in risky environments - such as Iraq. Employees are not informed they are covered by kidnap risk insurance - a practice eerily similar to 'dead peasant' life insurance policies that pay employers benefits if an employee dies.

Under the Defense Base Act (DBA), when an American contractor pays an additional premium for war hazard risk - and I would imagine this includes kidnap risk - coverage under the DBA is exempt. Which raises the question of what kind of benefits kidnap risk policies pay and to whom. Are there survivor benefits for a hostage's family while they remain missing? Or are benefits paid out solely to the corporation?

Like I said above, depressing.

Editor's note: the Missing Man turned 5-years old with this post.

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