Canadian John Ridsdel was kidnapped by a terrorist organization and held for ransom while visiting a resort island in the Philippines in September of 2015. In April of 2016, Ridsdel was killed by his captors. A retired executive, Ridsdel was an avid traveller and knew the region he was visiting well—proof that kidnappings abroad can happen anywhere and to anyone.
This tragic incident helps illustrate just how important it is for businesses that allow their employees to travel abroad for work to protect those workers. The following are four tips employers should share with their employees to ensure safety abroad:
- Be aware. Most kidnappings can be avoided if the employee is aware of his or her surroundings. Having a deep understanding of the culture and how you may be perceived can go a long way toward avoiding dangerous situations. Ensure that your employees understand how to properly conduct themselves in public.
- Transportation. Ensure that you have provided approved transportation to your employees. Never provide transportation you are unsure of, as this can be dangerous. Employees should also be advised to avoid spontaneous trips to unfamiliar areas.
- Vary your schedule. Sticking to a daily routine is good for planning, but it can make an employee an easier target for kidnappers. For long-term trips, instruct employees to change up their routes to and from their hotels as possible.
- Be wary of the local authorities. Abroad, the local police can be an invaluable resource to your employees in the event of an emergency. However, they can sometimes be just as dangerous as the kidnappers themselves. In fact, in some foreign countries, local police may do the kidnapping themselves or play a role in helping kidnappers capture unexpected travellers.
To further protect employees, businesses should consider purchasing a kidnap and ransom insurance policy. This type of coverage is a stand-alone policy designed for those businesses whose employees travel internationally, and it covers costs related to kidnapping, ransom, wrongful detention, extortion and hijacking.
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