Border violence leads to rise in kidnapping insurance

Kidnapping insurance policies are on the rise in the Rio Grande Valley, according to one agency out of Pharr. Sheila Dunagan from Valley Insurance Providers called it a "sign of the times." The company works with underwriters to protect people in the Rio Grande Valley in the event of a kidnapping. Her clients, she said, often travel across the border into Mexico. The country is a known drug war zone where cartels have been battling for prime smuggling routes into the United States. Dunagan believes the fear of spillover violence is what TMs been increasing the amount of coverage questions about kidnap protection. "It's anyone who has a perception that they may have wealth... business owners... people that own homes, people that drive a nice car," she said. While reports show a rise in kidnappings in the Valley in recent years, San Juan P.D.'s Sergeant Rudy Luna said they're usually proven to be targeted crimes. "If you're involved in drugs, if you're involved in anything that's illegal, that's what these people are looking for," he said. But random kidnappings are not out of the question. In fact, an illegal immigrant staying in the City of San Juan for years was kidnapped and taken into Mexico for ransom back in August. The victim was able to escape, and the case remains under investigation. We wanted to know if the average "Joe" would buy into a high level of protection for kidnappings. "I wouldn't consider it because I don't live here," Joe Silva said. "I travel a lot." "I wouldn't take that coverage, Jorge Garza said. I just don't think I need it... that's going to extremes... but it is showing the times... the hard times right now." A million dollar kidnapping policy can cost about $2,500 a year. Dunagan calls it affordable peace of mind for the "extreme" uncertain times.