Passport to Safe Travels:
Practical Advice for Afﬂuent Travelers
Provided by HUB International
Charles and Nancy stepped off the airplane and onto the
tarmac at the small airport in Central America—again.
Their favorite vacation getaway, they ended up buying
a cottage there and spending extended long weekends
once every two to three months. They were well-known
as the rich American couple who lived near the beach
about 15 miles from the small air strip. The more often
they visited, the more like home it felt. As a result, they
became less cautious on their last few trips—“we are as
safe here as we are in the United States,” they recently
told their friends. On a recent arrival, just as they were
about to step into the back seat of their car, Charles
noticed it was not their usual car or driver. Luckily, they
had worked with their advisor to put a plan in place in
case anything seemed out of the ordinary.
“The world is shrinking” has long been a catch phrase to describe how accessible the world has become; however it should also
remind us of the proximity to danger. For anyone whose business and pleasure activities take them across the globe, that means
leaving nothing to chance when it comes to ensuring their safety.
The risks facing today’s travelers include kidnapping, hijacking, terrorism, and crime. Advisors to afﬂuent clients who travel for
business or pleasure need to think through everything from managing petty theft and lost passports, to kidnapping, to accessing
emergency medical care in a remote location.
This white paper covers the importance of proper planning and understanding the basics of personal safety when in an unfamiliar
environment. It includes a checklist of common sense safety tips to reduce the primary risk of being the victim of a crime while
traveling in a foreign country.
The prospect of being kidnapped is not as far-fetched as it may have been years ago. Today, it is a serious threat in many parts of
the globe. This under-reported crime has become more complicated and dangerous in recent years. Some top security ﬁrms are
retained by insurers to work with policyholders to counsel them prior to a trip and take charge in the event of a kidnapping. A life
and death outcome can be predicated on the level of experience the negotiating team has, how well they diagnose the situation,
and how quickly they respond.
Finding, obtaining, and paying for medical care in a country where a client has no physician or hospital relationships, no immediate
access to personal medical records, and does not speak the local language can create risks. Travelers are advised to have a clear
understanding of the available health care and local practices in cities and countries on their itinerary and decide if they need to
rely on expert resources to help facilitate access to emergency care as well as consider insurance for overseas medical care or
Insurers today offer a plethora of resources, experts and products to reduce the risks facing afﬂuent individuals when they travel.
The right insurance, security advice and partners can mitigate the risks, but only if the individual takes full advantage of the counsel
they receive and exercises round-the-clock vigilance.
The ﬁrst line of defense is
the active, diligent attention
and proper planning to
make certain individuals
understand the basics of
personal safety to decrease
their personal vulnerability.
Travel Dangers for High Net Worth Individuals
“The world is shrinking” has long been a catch phrase to According to Guidry, the
describe how accessible the world has become; however it “basics”, which include “We constantly have to
should also remind us of the proximity to danger. For anyone passport storage, credit help clients overcome an
whose business and pleasure activities take them across the card usage, strategies attractive and dangerous
globe frequently, that should mean leaving nothing to chance for overcoming language notion -- calamity always
happens to someone else.”
when it comes to ensuring their safety. Ignorance is not bliss barriers, dealing with a
-- Greg Bangs
when it comes to foreign travel. concierge, and how to
stay alert when walking
Advisors to afﬂuent clients who travel frequently for business around unfamiliar areas, are more important than preparing for
or pleasure need to think through everything from managing other types of security issues.
petty theft and lost passports, to kidnapping to obtaining
emergency medical care on a remote tropical island or “It’s good to think of all the possibilities, but put your time and
third-world business outpost. Risks include kidnapping, attention toward the basics. The vast majority of crime that
hijacking, terrorism, and crime. Insurers today have a plethora happens when you travel happens when you are not careful
of resources, experts, and products to counsel clients on with your passport, wallet, and personal information,” Guidry
everything from how to carry one’s passport in the airport to warns.
anti-piracy devices for private yachts.
“Most business travelers would say ‘it can’t happen to me’ if Terrorism
you told them they could be a victim of a kidnap and ransom Acts of terrorism are more visible and therefore may seem like
or extortion (KRE) incident,” says Greg Bangs, vice president a greater threat to travelers than ever before. From September
and product manager for KRE at Chubb. “While it may be 11, 2001 to the attacks in Mumbai, India in 2008, terrorists
true that it is more likely someone will become involved in a target ‘regular’ people to focus attention on their political
trafﬁc accident overseas than to be in the midst of a terrorist or issues. “Terrorism has been on everyone’s mind lately,” says
kidnapping attack, that mentality just doesn’t play smart these Guidry. “However, it should not be at the top of your safety
days.” checklist. Depending on where you are going, knowing where
there are problems and making sure that you keep someone
The right insurance, security advice, and on-the-ground
stateside abreast of where you are planning to travel is all the
support can mitigate the risks, but only if the individual takes
preparation you really need for this kind of security issue.”
full advantage of the counsel they receive and exercises round-
The prospect of being kidnapped for ransom is not as far-
Common Sense Safety fetched as it may have been years ago. Today, it is a serious
Kidnapping, terrorism, hijacking, and medical emergencies threat in many parts of the globe. The top kidnapping hot
are the exception, not the rule, when it comes to travel safely spots currently include Mexico, Pakistan, Venezuela, Nigeria,
according to Michael Guidry, president and CEO of the Guidry India, Afghanistan, Colombia, Somalia, Brazil, and the
Group, a Texas-based international consultancy specializing in Philippines. Latin American countries continue to dominate
security risk auditing and management. Security experts agree the kidnap rankings. Haiti and Iraq are absent from the top ten
that petty criminals are opportunistic and they don’t need to rankings after years of high levels of incidents.1
look far for victims. Airports, hotels, and upscale restaurants
are target-rich environments.
While many world governments may underreport kidnappings
because they don’t want to discourage travel to their
“Many Americans stick out like a sore thumb. U.S. passports
respective countries, experts estimate that there are as many
are blue and Americans wave them around in the open at
as 15,000 annually—even though they acknowledge precise
airports telegraphing the fact they are Americans,” says Guidry.
numbers are hard to come by because only a fraction of
“Always keep a passport in a secure pocket and bring it out
incidents are reported.2
only when necessary. For the same reason, remove luggage
tags, which advertise who you are and where you come from.”
Individuals who have had loved ones kidnapped may not Group) and others, are retained by insurers to work with
always report incidents to authorities, sometimes from fear policyholders to minimize their exposure and to take charge
of reprisal from criminals and sometimes because local in the event of a kidnapping. In addition to counsel prior to a
authorities may be involved in the crimes themselves. trip, they can provide up-to-the minute reports on the political
and criminal climate in a particular country. These foreign
Here, too, politics can play a role. “Kidnappers may not be as situation advisories are invaluable in considering where special
interested in money as they are in making a political statement. precautions are needed.
So now, someone traveling internationally on business or for
pleasure, must be cognizant of the political situations on top of Says Liberty’s Labrano, “Before we issue a policy, I need to
the purely criminal situation,” said Louis Labrano, SVP, Crisis know current and prior destinations, including frequency,
Management, Liberty International Underwriters. as well as the industry they work in. I also require a copy
of the plan in case of kidnapping, and whether or not your
company has experienced a kidnapping. The fact is successful
Experts also stress that the more kidnappings have a greater risk of repeating. And we are going
to insist that we give you a security brieﬁng before you go.“
visible one is, the greater the
vulnerability. Kidnappers proﬁle their Having a contingency plan—including the order in which
parties are contacted, protocols, and procedures—is crucial.
targets ahead of time, so they advise When an individual who is covered under a kidnap, ransom
and extortion (KRE) policy is kidnapped, the insurer typically
travelers to be less conspicuous and
lets the security ﬁrm assigned under the policy take the lead in
less easily identiﬁable as wealthy. directing negotiations, paying ransom, and ensuring that the
incident concludes with a safe release.
According to Christopher Voss, managing director of Insite If a kidnapping takes place, a life and death outcome can be
Security, and former lead international kidnapping negotiator predicated on the level of experience the negotiating team has
for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), kidnapping has and how quickly they respond. Speed of response can make
become more complicated in the last few years “Before the difference between success and failure.
2003, negotiators used tactics established for kidnappings
in Colombia, in which kidnappers would hold a victim until
the ransom was paid. Today, the rules have changed and
Piracy and Hijacking
Closely related to kidnapping, piracy and hijackings, while not
kidnappers in other parts of the world will kill more quickly.
common, are threats that travelers need to be aware of and
The money can be irrelevant. It is not enough that the security
prepare for. “Like terrorism, the chances of these types of
ﬁrm conducting the operation has institutional experience in
security risks are much, much lower than having your passport
kidnap negotiations. The operatives on the ground need to
or credit cards stolen while you travel abroad,” Guidry reminds.
have broad experience across many countries and you need
an experienced negotiator who knows how to diagnose a
There has been a lot of coverage of increased piracy in the
situation and is focused on your interests.”
news this year, but tankers and cargo ships aren’t the only
targets. Expensive yachts offer the potential for little resistance
Kidnapping characteristics vary from country to country and
and rich payoffs to would-be hijackers.
can change depending on the nationality of the travelers,
cultural and religious differences and the changing economic
For travelers planning cruises—either on a commercial craft
climate. In Mexico, some kidnappers will abduct for only a few
or on their own—it is imperative they know the dangers their
hundred dollars.3 “Kidnapping in Mexico is largely a criminal
route poses, and work with an expert to plan and prepare
enterprise, with eight to 10 kidnapping gangs operating in
based on the potential dangers. And, for those knowingly
Mexico City alone,” says Chubb’s Bangs. “Our concern is that
going into unsafe territory, there are products on the market to
all of Mexico, from a kidnapping perspective, has become so
help deter pirates.
dangerous and so out of control that we’re warning people
about Cancun and other traditional tourist spots.”
Mega-TALI is a long-range, tunable laser with a 10-20 mile
range, which will, in an eye-safe manner, disable the vision of
The top security ﬁrms, including Texas-based Guidry Group
would-be attackers and disallow them from being effective in
and United Kingdom-based G4S (which includes Armor
their attack. A stand-off from that distance puts the advantage may withhold care until payment is assured.) Doing research
clearly in the court of the defending crew. and being prepared could save one’s life.
“Having good local sources of information, following common Destination medical planning is one way to ensure that medical
sense, and staying current with threats is the best defense,” support is available in the event of an emergency. WorldClinic
says Pete Bitar, president and CEO of XADS, a developer of offers “Away from Home”, a comprehensive service that
non-lethal laser weapons. includes access to personal medical records, a Prescription
Medical Kit, and a proprietary database of physicians and
hospitals around the world. It also includes evacuation and
emergency hospitalization insurance in addition to other
Being on the receiving end of a crime is only one way to be
victimized when traveling outside the United States. What
happens when one is injured and in need of emergency
surgery, or when a pre-existing condition ﬂares up, requiring The Role of Insurance in Travel Security
immediate medical attention? Beyond swine ﬂu, avian ﬂu, and Insurers have the opportunity to help protect individuals before
malaria, it makes good practical sense to have options in case they travel by counseling them on the basics, such as where to
there is a medical emergency. store their passport and how to remain anonymous. They also
have resources to educate them about the local threats, help
Finding, obtaining, and paying for medical care in a country them take proper precautions and recommend appropriate
where a traveler has no physician or hospital relationships, no insurance coverage.
immediate access to personal medical records, and does not
speak the local language, can create many risks. Kidnap, Ransom & Extortion (KRE) Insurance - Depending
on the type of policy, KRE may cover many expenses
“When you are at home, you have good medical infrastructure, connected with a kidnapping, including the ransom or
access to your doctors, pharmacy, and big medical centers. extortion monies, death or dismemberment beneﬁts, loss of
All of that goes away when you are overseas. You may not payment, judgment, settlement and defense costs, expenses
have access to emergency services or quick access to your of a hostage release/security consulting team, and medical
medical records,” says Dan Carlin, MD, president of World or psychiatric care of the victim, and a 24-hour emergency
Clinic, a global medical practice that enables around-the-clock response help line. KRE coverage is primarily offered through
access to a personal doctor anywhere in the world. ACE, Chartis, Chubb, Fireman’s Fund, Hiscox (United
Kingdom specialty insurer) and Liberty.
When traveling, do research so that Premiums and limits can vary according to the countries
traveled, type of employment, and the duration and frequency
you have a clear understanding of of travel. The World Bank has called for the ban on KRE
the available medical care and local policies, or to disallow the company tax write off, arguing that
the policies encourage kidnappers. To help offset this risk,
practices in cities and countries on
insurers require that policyholders not disclose that they have
the itinerary. such coverage.
-- Dr. Carlin, World Clinic
Medical travel coverage can include a wide array of services
including emergency medical transportation (evacuation,
“For example, what is the practice of medical care in the often from any country worldwide), emergency medical and
countries to which you are traveling?” Dr. Carlin asks. “If a dental coverage, trip cancellation and/or trip interruption, travel
treatment does not work, do you have more than one back-up accident coverage, and concierge services.
Travel Accident insurance has evolved beyond simple
According to Dr. Carlin, other medical issues that are policies designed to pay for death or injury. The newer travel
overlooked when traveling internationally include the language insurance policies include reimbursement for economic loss
barrier (medicines are known by different names in different resulting from trip cancellation, delay or interruption, along with
countries) and methods of payment (in many countries, health concierge and emergency assistance services designed to
care is a mix of public and private enterprise, and hospitals meet the needs of today’s demanding travelers.
Travel Accident Insurance & Assistance Services Comparison
Chubb Chartis Mondial SOS International
Individual/Family Yes No Yes No
Group Type Policies No Yes Yes Yes
AD&D Yes Yes Yes No
Medical Expense + Yes Yes Yes *Limited
Emergency Medical Transport Yes Yes Yes *Limited
Travel Delay Expense Yes Yes Yes *Limited
Trip Cancellation/Interruption Delay Only Yes Yes *Limited
Baggage/Personal Property Loss No Yes Yes No
Baggage Delay Expense Yes Yes Yes No
Rental Car Coverage + No Yes Yes No
Travel Assistance Services
24 hour Global Assistance Call Center Yes Yes Yes Yes
Assistance Services Covered
Prescription Replacement Yes Yes Yes Yes
Legal Yes Yes Yes Yes
Travel Documents Yes Yes Yes Yes
Medical Referrals Yes Yes Yes Yes
Translation & Consular Yes Yes Yes Yes
Concierge Services Yes Yes Yes Yes
Emergency Message Transmission Yes Yes Yes Yes
Other listed Assistance Yes Yes Yes Yes
AD&D Coverage Exclusions
Not Not Not Not
Hazardous Activities Covered Covered Covered Covered
Pregnancy or Delivery Complications
Suicide or Attempt
AD&D Coverage Enhancements
Felonious Assault Yes Yes No No
Disappearance as Death Yes Yes Yes No
Exposure After Coverage Accident Yes Yes Yes No
Infection After Accident Yes Yes Yes No
Accidental Bacteria Ingestion Yes Yes Yes No
AD&D Payment Structures
100% of limits for death Yes Yes Yes No
100% loss of two limbs or sight & one limb Yes Yes Yes No
50% of limit for loss of single limb or sight Yes Yes Yes No
Covered Trip Types ±
Business Yes Yes Yes Yes
Pleasure Yes Yes Yes Yes
Minimum Distance ++ Yes Yes Yes Yes
Minimum Duration ++ Yes Yes Yes Yes
Maximum Distance ++ No No No No
Maximum Duration ++ Yes Yes Yes Yes
Insured Yes Yes Yes Yes §
Spouse Yes Yes ¥ Yes ¥ Yes §
Immediate Family Members Yes Yes ¥ Yes ¥ Yes §
Trips Covered (Yes or No)
Medical Treatment No No No Yes
Commuting to and from Work No Yes No Yes
* Limitations are to services only – No insurance Note:
+ Excess Other Insurance Some exclusions under insurance features are stated because other policies are
± Some Limit Commuting or Trips for Health Treatment typically owned and provide the coverage excluded here.
≠ Usually 100 Miles from Home or More and Over 1 Day to Trigger Coverage
Catastrophe Exclusions are usually uninsurable situations not reasonably foresee-
§ If enrolled
able or extreme loss potentials or “Acts of God.”
++ Usually minimum 24 hours and 100 miles from home – usually maximum duration of 60 or 90 days
¥ If listed and declared liability limits which are policy aggregates in some cases Costs and unusual services arising out of repatriation of remains after death usually
are covered by all forms but SOS will only help make arrangements.
The comparison of select travel insurance policies on page 7 Centers for Disease Control. Provides information about
highlights the increasing complexity of these plans. Eligibility diseases, vaccines, and offers tips on how to stay healthy
requirements vary by plan, with some available on an individual when traveling.
or group basis. Some plans, such as SOS International, www.cdc.gov
provide worldwide travel assistance with no insurance
coverage. Global Safe Haven Network. Promotes safe travel and offers
emergency support to young travelers
Other Valuable Resources
U.S. State Department. Provides travel warnings and
information. Register for automated email updates. Current Travel Warnings
www.travel.state.gov Using U.S. State Department data, the map below highlights
countries that have met conditions to merit a Travel Warning
Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade during 2009. These are issued to describe long-term,
Canada. Travel reports and warnings. protracted conditions that make a country dangerous or
www.voyage.gc.ca/index-eng.asp unstable. Travel Warnings are also issued when the U.S.
Government’s ability to assist American citizens is constrained
U.S. Department of Transportation. Provides tips on how to due to the closure of an embassy or consulate or because of a
prepare and pack safely for air travel drawdown of its staff.
This list is regularly updated and should be checked online at
www.travel.state.gov. before planning foreign travel.
Lebanon Iraq ha
Haiti Chad Sudan Yem Nepal
Cote d’Ivoire Central
African Kenya Lanka
(Ivory Coast) Republic
Safe Travel Checklist
HUB International offers the following tips for individuals who are traveling internationally:
Learn as much as you can about the country you are visiting before you leave. You should be aware of the
political and cultural climate, health/safety risks, active criminal and terrorist groups, and their propensity for
kidnap and extortion. There are a number of travel security resources available, some of which provide ongoing
Depending on your destination and your medical condition, you may want to plan for how you will cover the
substantial expenses associated with hospitalization and/or medical evacuation. There are a number of travel
insurance and emergency evacuation plans that provide cost effective coverage.
Carry your medications in the original containers with copies of the original prescriptions.
Remove all personal information from luggage tags. Use a small, discreet tag that includes your employer
name and business address. If your luggage is lost, you can reclaim it with a business card and photo
Do not honor requests to transport letters or packages from people you don’t know, no matter how innocent
Keep your cash and high value items in the hotel safe.
Leave expensive jewelry at home. The majority of insurance claims placed by individuals while traveling are
related to jewelry losses. In many cases, these losses resulted from individuals accidentally leaving their
Book a hotel room between the third and sixth ﬂoors. A room below the third ﬂoor can pose a potential
security concern. A room on the seventh ﬂoor or higher makes ﬁre rescue and evacuation more difﬁcult.
Do not discuss your travel plans with hotel staff members or reveal your personal information to casual
When you leave your hotel for the day, secure your luggage with plastic luggage ties. Inexpensive and easy to
use, these ties can keep your personal items safe from anyone who comes into your room.
Never leave your laptop unattended. In light of the increasing risk of identity theft, you should travel only
with the data that you absolutely need. If you are traveling for business, have your employer install a highly
encrypted program on your laptop to reduce the risk of hacking.
Exercise caution in using ATMs. Avoid alerting bystanders that you may be carrying a large sum of cash. ATM
transactions should only be done during the day, and only inside a ﬁnancial institution. Avoid using ATMs that
are located on the street.
HUB International Safe Travels Checklist
Additional Safety Tips for High Net Worth Travelers
International travel presents unique security concerns for high net worth individuals and corporate executives.
Many choose to seek the guidance of a personal security advisor who will help them plan their trip and be
available in case of an emergency. Risk Control Strategies (RCS), a ﬁrm that specializes in threat management,
investigations and security solutions for corporations and the high net worth community recommends the
Know who has access to your travel itinerary. Ask if the employees at your travel agency have been screened
by their employer. Background checks should be conducted on anyone who has access to your personal
Conduct background checks on staff members traveling with you. If you hire a professional security ﬁrm,
ask them to conduct background investigations on your nannies, housekeepers, chefs, chauffeurs, pilots,
yacht captains and ﬁrst ofﬁcers.
Secure a personal driver on the ground. Depending on the travel destination, you may opt to hire a personal
driver who has been screened for safety. Some security consultants employ drivers worldwide who have been
carefully investigated. Avoid cabs and/or rental cars. Having someone do the driving for you enables you to
enjoy your travels and arrive safely.
Secure a Kidnap & Ransom policy before you go. This applies to all international locations, not just the
countries or regions that have been deemed “hot spots.” Kidnap & Ransom insurance can help protect
individuals in the event of an actual kidnapping and assist in the safe release of the victim. If children are
traveling with you, they each need their own individual policies. Older children who are studying abroad should
also have their own insurance policy.
Consider destination medical planning – If you have a serious or complex health problem, consider hiring
an expert who can arrange for customized medical services and resources to be in place wherever you go.
For more information, contact your HUB International Personal Insurance advisor.
This information is provided for general information purposes only. It does not constitute professional advice and does not
create a broker-client relationship. Please consult a HUB advisor about your speciﬁc needs before taking any action.
1. “Annual Kidnap Review”, Special Contingency Risks Limited, London, England, 2008.
2. “The Eighth United Nations Survey on Crime Trends and the Operations of Criminal Justice Systems,” United
Nations Ofﬁce on Drugs and Crime, Centre for International Crime Prevention, 2002.
3. “A Mexican Kidnapping: Police Apathy, Few Answers,” Alexandra Olson, Associated Press, Mexico City,
February 21, 2009.
HUB International thanks the following resources for their contribution to this white paper.
ACE The Guidry Group
Jean McDermott-Lucey K&R Michael Guidry, president and CEO
212-703,7190 USA 936-582-5810
Scott Lambert - International Advantage
215-640-4586 Liberty International Underwriters
firstname.lastname@example.org Louis Labrano, senior vice president - Crisis Management,
Karen Sheekey - Accident & Health email@example.com
Bruce Wixson - Yachts Mark Cipolletti, vice president, Corporate Communications,
609-927-0878 804- 673-1591
Chartis Private Health Management
Jeremy Wyatt, Vice President, Marketing - Accident & Health, Leslie D. Michelson, Chairman & CEO
Risk Control Strategies
CHUBB Paul Viollis, CEO
Greg Bangs, Vice President and Product Manager - Kidnap, 212-267-6992
Ransom and Extortion www.riskcontrolstrategies.com
Fireman’s Fund Dr. Daniel Carlin, MD
Donald E. Soss, chief underwriting ofﬁcer - Personal Lines 800-636-9186
Insite Security, Inc. XADS
Christopher Voss, Managing Director Pete Bitar, president and CEO
Special thanks to Jim Boyd for research assistance.
For more information about travel risks and insurance solutions, contact James Kane, president, HUB International
Personal Insurance at firstname.lastname@example.org, or your HUB International Personal Insurance advisor.
HUB International Limited
Headquartered in Chicago, HUB International is a leading North American insurance brokerage that provides a broad
array of property and casualty, reinsurance, life and health, employee beneﬁts, investment and risk management
products and services through over 200 ofﬁces across the United States and Canada.
HUB Personal Insurance, Private Client Advisors
This dedicated practice within HUB International offers one of the largest and most sophisticated personal
insurance practices in North America. Licensed on all 50 states and the territories and provinces of Canada, HUB
International Personal Insurance has access to the products and services of hundreds of insurance carriers and
intermediaries. For more information, contact email@example.com
This information is provided for general information purposes only. It does not constitute professional advice and
does not create a broker-client relationship. Please consult a HUB advisor about your speciﬁc needs before taking