By Magaly Olivero
In today’s volatile world, multinational companies need insurers with worldwide capabilities to quickly gather and disseminate local intelligence and mobilize resources to address threats against personnel, operations and other assets.
This has become more important as companies expand into eamerging markets in the Middle East, the Pacific Rim and Latin America. These multinational businesses must carefully assess and mitigate a variety of risks, ranging from kidnapping, ransom and extortion to civil unrest, cyber attacks, terrorism and natural disasters.
“Employers looking to enter global markets recognize the value of having a partner with the capabilities to understand the geopolitical nature of the environment they are entering and the means to address a situation should something negative occur,” said Daniel Gallagher, global head of incident management, the Global Security Operations Center and security services for American International Group, Inc. (AIG). “Our response and approach differs depending on exactly where and what business is being conducted.”
AIG operates a network of security consultants strategically placed around the world to support not only its clients but also its 60,000-plus global workforce. The company’s technology, security, medical and concierge services allow AIG to respond to a wide range of scenarios from minor security incidents to life-threatening events.
“We have a lot of skin in the game,” said Steven Tursi, chief security officer, referring to AIG’s commitment to use its own extensive workforce, rather than third-party vendors, to service clients. “Few companies are willing to invest in a large global security department with their own people on the ground. We provide clients with the same security services we provide to our own employees. That resonates with our clients.”
Duty of care
The first step for multinational companies entering high-threat areas involves defining their duty of care responsibilities before establishing facilities or deploying employees abroad. That is, they must take reasonable steps to ensure the well-being and safety of their workforce.
“Duty of care is becoming the buzzword for multinational companies that must travel to high-risk areas to grow their individual organizations,” said Tursi.
Although duty of care principles are not legally mandated in each country, many employers are “proactively getting in front of the issue by clearly defining their role in protecting their own personnel and property,” he said. “Employees also have high expectations, meaning businesses that fail to act responsibly risk future litigation.”
At AIG’s Global Security Operations Center, analysts monitor global geopolitical activity in real time, providing daily tracking and reporting services to AIG employees and clients worldwide. Targeted alerts and advisories reach clients through an automated delivery system embedded with a trigger mechanism to initiate mandatory evacuations, if warranted. Clients also have access to up-to-date information about their travel destination via state-of-the-art Assistance Centers and a Travel Assistance website.
The strength of AIG’s intelligence-gathering capabilities lies in the diverse backgrounds of its analysts and their ability to gather “organic information that matters” in countries around the world, explained Gallagher.
“We have analytical teams composed of classically trained intelligence analysts, as well as people who come from the military, corporate America, academia, law enforcement and other areas,” he said. “These individuals have specific skill sets, geographical specialties and deep networks that we can tap into around the world.”
Boots on the ground
By operating its own global security department, AIG can effectively respond to emergencies. For example, when unknown assailants carried out a bomb attack in an upscale Karachi neighborhood this year, AIG analysts “reached out to our local office to understand the impact on local operations and what the word on the street was in terms of intended targets,” said Gallagher.
The ability to quickly mobilize security personnel proved valuable during last year’s mass shooting at the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi by an Islamist group. Among the casualties was an AIG client whose daughter was also injured in the attack.
“Our own security professionals took care of everything, from coordinating repatriation arrangements for the deceased to ensuring that the surviving child received medical care,” said Gallagher. “Within hours, we had guards at the hospital — which we determined was now a target — protecting our clients.”
Such challenges should not prevent businesses from operating in high-threat environments.
“Good organizations have good risk-mitigation solutions,” noted Tursi. “Multinational firms with the right partnerships and plans in place will have the advantage in the future.”