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Travel Advisory

January 3, 2011

Risks of harm, property theft or kidnapping to Americans who travel internationally have increased in the past decade. Even countries that are not generally considered to be political “hotspots” may be dangerous for foreigners, especially those carrying American passports. While it is true that most travelers return home without incident no one wants to become a victim. Well-researched site selection, prudent behavior, and appropriate use of secure transportation can help to minimize the dangers.

General tips:
1) Avoid exploring remote areas and quiet areas in big cities. There is often more risk when fewer people are around so try to limit your itinerary to well-traveled routes, streets and neighborhoods.
2) Don’t display signs of affluence. Whenever possible do not travel with jewelry and don’t flash large sums of money in public places. Limit the use of large expensive cameras.
3) Try to blend in as much as possible. You can avoid attracting unwanted attention by speaking quietly and discreetly and dressing unostentatiously.
4) Make several copies of important documents like passports and credit cards and keep them in different places.
5) Before you travel obtain the contact information for the nearest embassies, consulates and hospitals for emergencies.
6) Travel during the daylight hours and do not travel alone.
7) Avoid using public transportation and taxis in more dangerous areas and arrange for drivers in advance using security firms.

Country specific information.
The U.S. State Department is a federal agency which offers useful information on its website.
The agency will issue 1) Travel Alerts to disseminate information about short-term conditions, either transnational or within a particular country, that pose significant risks to the security of U.S. citizens, or 2) Travel Warnings when long-term, protracted conditions that make a country dangerous or unstable lead the State Department to recommend that Americans avoid or consider the risk of travel to that country.

Paul Viollis, the CEO of Risk Control Strategies (RCS), a provider of executive protection and security analysis, cautions that the State Department must balance its need to advise private U.S. citizens with its diplomatic role. A warning against travel to certain countries would likely be greeted unfavorably by that government and could disrupt not only the travel industry but also the generally friendly relations between the U.S .and that government.

According to data obtained by RCS, there has been in increase in what are known as “express kidnappings” overseas in the past year, with significant incidents occurring with frequency in Mexico. These abductions usually happen in the early morning, are often followed by harm to the victim, and then a call on the victim’s cell phone to a family member requesting a wire transfer of a fairly low ransom ($10-$15,000) to obtain release. RCS is advising their clients to avoid travel to Mexico unless absolutely necessary.

RCS offers a Travel Intelligence Network service with discounts for Chubb VIP clients and can help arrange secure transportation and executive protection for travel almost anywhere in the world.

Chartwell Insurance Services, Inc. is an independent insurance broker specializing in the personal asset protection of high net worth individuals.  Chartwell Insurance Services, Inc. is not affiliated with Risk Control Strategies and does not accept compensation from them.  

A representative of Chartwell Insurance Services, Inc. will be pleased to discuss all aspects of your personal insurance.  Contact: Rebecca Korach Woan | 312. 645.1200 |