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Survey Report

Insurance Marketplace Realities 2024 – Special contingency risks: kidnap and ransom

November 9, 2023

The special risks insurance markets have almost uniformly removed all cyber extortion coverage from their policy forms.
Credit and Political Risk|Financial, Executive and Professional Risks (FINEX)
Rate predictions: Special contingency risks – Kidnap and ransom
  Trend Range
Special contingency risks Neutral Decrease Increase (flat purple line, arrow pointing up and down) -5% to +10%

The pandemic has so far not had a direct impact on this insurance sector, but it is changing the nature of the risk.

  • As restrictions and lockdowns have eased, the incidence of kidnap activity has returned to pre-COVID-19 levels in several countries. While the decline in international travel has led to a perceived reduction in risk, our data shows an increase in the numbers of local nationals kidnapped.
  • Moreover, criminals have continued to invest in schemes, such as virtual kidnaps (an alleged kidnap has occurred with a quick ransom), to exploit the current environment and maintain a cashflow to fund further illicit operations.
  • Cyber extortion has also continued unabated, as many technology-related crimes are not impacted by lockdowns or reductions in social and business interaction. Indeed, the steep rise in people working from home has presented cyber criminals a wider range of softer targets.
  • Many believe that the economic downturn and financial impact of COVID-19 could lead to increased security threats and higher rates of criminality globally as groups/individuals become more desperate.

Insurers are maintaining coverage restrictions or exclusions for Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.

  • As a result of the crisis in Ukraine and the imposition of sanctions against Russia and against certain elements in Belarus and parts of Ukraine, insurers have introduced coverage exclusions.
  • The exclusions apply to programs with historic, actual or anticipated employee headcount or travel exposure in/to those countries.
  • The scope of coverage exclusions has varied by insurers, ranging from blanket exclusions across the entire program to exclusions under selected endorsements only.

Interest in active assailant coverage is growing.

  • In addition to the traditional K&R policies, the special risks market continues to develop and promote policies that respond to a broader range of security-related perils.
  • We have seen special risks insurers, as well as other specialty insurers, show greater interest in active assailant coverage and offer increasingly customized solutions (either via endorsement or stand-alone policies) with a focus on post-incident crisis management support, legal liability, business interruption (because of both physical and non-physical damage) and indemnification of a variety of incident-related expenses.
  • These solutions go beyond traditional terrorism and/or political violence coverage and are increasingly being used to complement traditional policies.


Willis Towers Watson hopes you found the general information provided in this publication informative and helpful. The information contained herein is not intended to constitute legal or other professional advice and should not be relied upon in lieu of consultation with your own legal advisors. In the event you would like more information regarding your insurance coverage, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. In North America, Willis Towers Watson offers insurance products through licensed entities, including Willis Towers Watson Northeast, Inc. (in the United States) and Willis Canada Inc. (in Canada).

Each applicable policy of insurance must be reviewed to determine the extent, if any, of coverage for losses relating to the Ukraine crisis. Coverage may vary depending on the jurisdiction and circumstances. For global client programs it is critical to consider all local operations and how policies may or may not include coverage relating to the Ukraine crisis. The information contained herein is not intended to constitute legal or other professional advice and should not be relied upon in lieu of consultation with your own legal and/or other professional advisors. Some of the information in this publication may be compiled by third-party sources we consider reliable; however, we do not guarantee and are not responsible for the accuracy of such information. We assume no duty in contract, tort or otherwise in connection with this publication and expressly disclaim, to the fullest extent permitted by law, any liability in connection with this publication. Willis Towers Watson offers insurance-related services through its appropriately licensed entities in each jurisdiction in which it operates. The Ukraine crisis is a rapidly evolving situation and changes are occurring frequently. Willis Towers Watson does not undertake to update the information included herein after the date of publication. Accordingly, readers should be aware that certain content may have changed since the date of this publication. Please reach out to the author or your Willis Towers Watson contact for more information.


Philipp Seel
Director, Head of Special Risks North America
Special Contingency Risks, Inc.

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