Key Guidance

A Guide to Insurance for NGOs Operating in Violent Environments

Know what you need and maintain control of the process

Brokers and insurers should work with you to ensure that you get the right policies for your organisation. However, they can sometimes attempt to push clients towards a particular policy irrespective of whether it truly meets their needs. It is therefore vital that organisations know exactly what cover they need, and to ask for quotes that fit these requirements. If your broker or insurer is unwilling to be flexible or unable to understand your organisation’s insurance needs, you should seek alternative providers. Using the right broker and insurer is critical. It is highly recommended to seek companies that specialise in your sector; ask similar organisations for recommendations.

Add additional endorsements if you need them

If you find a policy that provides most, but not all, of the cover that you need, explain this to the broker or insurer and ask them if they can provide additional endorsements to cover the gaps. Useful additional endorsements could relate to the types of Insured Persons, extended geographical coverage, inclusion of pre-existing medical conditions or an allowance to travel against government travel advisories, for example.

Ensure that you provide a fair presentation of the risk

Organisations will commonly be asked to complete a form and provide supplementary information. The requested information could include company details, the level of required insurance, the organisation’s activities, likely risks, the number of staff, travel patterns, travel destinations, previous claims and incidents and asset registers, for example. As well as understanding your needs, this process is part of the methodology that underwriters use to assess your organisation’s exposure to the risks (and ultimately the likelihood of claiming on the policy). Organisations are required to provide this information to their brokers and insurers in a manner that is clear and accessible and does not make any misrepresentations. If organisations fail to do this, it may qualify (in the United Kingdom) as a ‘breach of the duty of fair presentation’ under the Insurance Act 2015, allowing the insurer to void the contract, refuse all claims and not return any of the premiums paid.

Equally cover all staff

It is not uncommon for organisations to provide more extensive policies to travelling staff or international staff based overseas than to national staff. This is partly due to the availability of appropriate insurance in different countries, but also a reflection of the relative lack of mitigation measures put in place for national staff despite the increasing practice of transferring risk from international to national actors. This is a nonsensical and discriminatory approach to risk management, as national staff are often significantly more exposed to safety and security threats than their international colleagues. Of the 3,114 aid workers who were killed, injured or kidnapped in the 10 years to 2017, only 14% (439) were international staff according to the Aid Worker Security Database. Sector specific insurers and brokers are beginning to understand and respond to this dynamic by developing and offering global policies. Ambrelia and Allianz Worldwide Care have designed the NGO Care range of insurance products with this requirement in mind, for example. An alternative option for organisations to set minimum insurance standards for country programmes and self-insure where available in-country policies fall short of these standards.

Use the free access to risk portals

Over the last 10 years, most major insurers have begun providing customers with access to risk portals as part of their travel, personal accident, kidnap and crisis solution policies. Although the quality and granularity of the information provided varies significantly, these online portals commonly include country and city profiles, risk ratings, health information, safety and security reports, business and social etiquette guidance, embassy contact details and government travel advisories, for example. These portals can be used to drive an organisation’s threat-level system or inform travel risk assessments, and because they are available to all those covered by the policy, individuals can research destinations, providing an excellent mechanism to support an organisation’s informed consent processes.

Socialise your policies

Once organisations have the right policies in place they must be socialised with the Insured Persons. This needs to go beyond simply telling staff that they are covered or circulating the summary of cover document in an email. As discussed above, polices are commonly long, complex documents that are full of jargon and multiple inclusions, exclusions, endorsements and conditions. This means that organisation’s need to translate the policy and cover into clear language. Organisations should develop short, simple guidance documents (ideally with some example scenarios) and deliver socialisation sessions where the Insured Persons can ask questions to gain a deeper understanding of what is, and what is not, covered. Note that this should exclude crisis solution and kidnap, ransom and extortion policies.

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