Emergency School Evacuation in Libya
Ricardo Urbina, Director of Sales for global insurer Clements Worldwide, was watching CNN when he saw a familiar face. A teacher at one of the international schools in Libya was describing to a reporter the recent evacuation her school had just undertaken. Following the outbreak of political violence, international schools were forced to quickly move their students, faculty and staff to safety and salvage as many possessions as possible.
Ricardo immediately recognized the plan of action the teacher described. He had been in Libya just a couple months earlier to personally advise her school’s leadership on Political Risk insurance. Now, what Ricardo and Clements underwriters had long feared might happen was rapidly becoming a reality.
In December 2010, after four years of applications, phone calls and interviews, Urbina had finally managed to secure a visa to visit Libya. In addition to being one of the most difficult countries in the world to obtain a visa to as a U.S. citizen, it is also home to three of Clements Worldwide’s international school clients. In spite of the red tape, the signs of imminent political outbreak were urgent enough to require the expert guidance only a personal visit could guarantee.
When asked why he would visit clients in person when alternative modes of communication exist?
“There is no replacement for meeting clients in person,” Urbina insists.
Urbina adds that it is important to understand clients’ needs and anticipate challenges they may face, especially when they are in a high-risk area and have unique needs that must be met.
“Our underwriters reported that there might be some political turmoil in the near future,” says Urbina. “There were several signs that trouble was amiss: high unemployment, rebel movements and a poor economy. All these signs point towards a risk-heavy situation ready to combust.”
Clements and Urbina had spent years monitoring the situation in Libya. As the company’s underwriters and consultants reported a deteriorating political situation in the country, Urbina became intent on visiting Libya to personally advise clients about their policy and evacuation options in the event of a political meltdown. “It was important to help the schools know their policy options and develop evacuation plans independent of outside agencies to ensure that they were prepared,” he says.
During his six-day visit, Urbina spoke with international school directors and teachers about their coverage plans and political evacuation policies. While visiting the school campuses he also evaluated their existing evacuation plans, paying particular attention to steps involving governmental agencies that might be rendered unreliable in an emergency. Ricardo also advised directors on risk assessment strategies for determining if a project is worth the damages that could be incurred in a political upheaval.
Expatriates in high-risk areas require a particularly high level of attention and service. These clients require a precise knowledge of what they are facing and could encounter in the future. But just as in less trying situations, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Ricardo’s visit ensured that Clements’ partner schools were fully aware of risks incurred by their operations and the proper courses of action to take in the event of a political evacuation. Thanks to Urbina’s hard work and dedication, Clements Worldwide’s partner schools in Libya were fully prepared for the political uprising that February.
As organizations continue to expand their operations around the world, it becomes increasingly critical that they consider the risk of political unrest and prepare accordingly. Estimates place the average cost of evacuating a single employee at as much as $10,000. Tens of thousands of foreign nationals were evacuated from Libya alone since the start of the political uprising in the country.
As the world watches the historic events in the Middle East and North Africa unfold, it becomes abundantly clear that multinational organizations must be equipped to handle these often unpredictable situations.
A number of insurance products are available to protect expatriates in high-risk areas such as Political Evacuation policies, Kidnap & Ransom insurance, and Personal Accident with War and Terrorism coverage. Political Risk insurance will protect assets that are abandoned or damaged such as a vehicle fleet, stock inventory, and property locations on site. Proper coverage can also protect goods in transit to an affected region.
Clements has long been ahead of the curve in navigating the international insurance market. Founded in 1947, Clements first provided international personal insurance products to expatriates, including U.S. Foreign Service Officers. Since then, Clements has become a leading provider of international car, personal property, health and high-risk insurance for expatriates, international organizations and educational institutions abroad. Clements currently works with over 175 international schools and universities around the world. For more information about Clements and global insurance solutions to protect your organization abroad, visit http://www.clements.com.