In the developing world, kidnapping is relatively common, and a market for kidnap insurance has arisen in response. We provide a model that allows us to analyze how kidnap insurance affects the interaction between the kidnapper and the victim’s family when both are self-interested and have complete knowledge. We find that a market for kidnap insurance can be supported because it benefits a risk-averse family, as long as the introduction of insurance does not increase the risk of kidnapping too much. Families should fully insure if purchasing insurance does not increase the probability of kidnapping, and partially insure otherwise. Kidnapping insurance allows families to redeem hostages from kidnappers with a greater willingness to kill, which may reduce the number of kidnapping fatalities as long as the insurance does not increase the risk of kidnapping too much.
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