Colombia Risk Assessment Country Guide 

Columbia Risk Assessment

As one of the world's most diverse countries - both in terms of ethnicities and geography - Colombia is a beautiful, expansive South American nation. Although the country has a long democratic history, Colombia has suffered from internal armed conflict for more than 40 years. Despite improvements in security, crime rates are high and expats can face a number of unique risks.

The threat of terrorism is high in Colombia, according to the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), and drug-related crime is present across most of the country. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office advise against all but essential travel to parts of Colombia, including rural areas near Panama, Venezuela and Ecuador, and the towns of Buenaventura, Turbo, Tumaco and Puerto Asis. 

On April 5, 2016, the State Department issued a travel warning to Colombia due to violence linked to narco-trafficking that continues to affect some rural and urban areas. Despite significant decreases in overall crime in Colombia, continued vigilance is warranted due to an increase in recent months of violent crime, including crime resulting in the deaths of American citizens.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (or the People’s Army or RAFC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN) both condemn any American influence in the country. Given the current unstable climate, comprehensive international insurance is recommended for those working abroad in Colombia.

  • Health
  • Safety & Security
  • Terrorism

On March 13, 2016, the CDC issued a Watch Level 1 for travel to Colombia as there have been 1,000 cases reported of the locally transmitted disease Chikungunya in Colombia. Chikungunya causes fever and joint pain and the CDC recommends that travelers to Colombia protect themselves from mosquito bites. 

In May 2015, the first local transmission of Zika virus infection was reported in South America, including Colombia. More than 3,100 pregnant women have been infected with Zika and more than 25,000 others infected. Local transmission means that mosquitoes in the area have been infected with Zika virus, spreading it to people. The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon.  Although there is no cure or vaccine for Zika, take standard precautions against mosquito bites and practice safe sex. Pregnant women should consider postponing travel.

Adequate health insurance is crucial prior to traveling to Colombia. There is a risk of yellow fever in the country, according to the National Travel Health Network and Centre. In addition, more than 8% of the population is a carrier of the Hepatitis B virus, whichexposes some travelers to infection.

Clements Worldwide offers GlobalCare® health insurance designed for individuals living outside their home countries. Coverage includes USD 5 million in health care benefits, as well as flexible payment plans, choice of deductible, and an optional War and Terrorism extension. This coverage extends your policy to include illness or injury caused by an act of war and terrorism.

Clements also provides Medical Evacuation and Repatriation Insurance, which covers expenses to transport you to a capable medical facility in case a local medical center isn’t able to provide adequate treatment in Colombia.

Call us today at +1.202.872.0060 or 800.872.0067 or email to discuss your organization’s travel needs tailored to considerations involved while operating in Colombia.

Source: UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office and Clements Worldwide 

Contact a Clements Representative for Insurance Solutions

Control of the drug trade has led to organized crime and armed conflict. Since illegal armed groups and criminal gangs are situated in many cities and rural areas where coca, marijuana, or opium poppies are cultivated, processed, or transported. Expats should be aware of their safety particularly in rural areas adjacent to the borders of Panama, Venezuela, and Ecuador.

Street crime has become a serious issue in large cities such as Bogota, Medellin, Cali and Santa Marta. Often, criminals will resort to violence when mugging and pickpocketing victims. In the Candelaria area of Bogota, British nationals were robbed at gun point. Expats should be highly alert in public places and near office buildings.

Expats can drive in Colombia with a valid UK or other recognized driving license and car insurance. Low driving standards lead to a high accident rate in Colombia. Expats should avoid driving at night, and main roads are usually safe in the daytime. There is significant risk of violence and kidnappings in some rural areas as illegal armed groups set-up roadblocks.  

If you are considering renting a car, Clements offers an International Car insurance policy that provides comprehensive coverage for bodily injury and property damage sustained from an accident. Our policy provides Physical Damage, Third Party Liability, and Excess Liability. Your policy is effective whether you are on the road or parked. Optional Political Violence extension is recommended, which broadens the coverage to include strikes, riots, malicious damage, sabotage, war, terrorism or civil unrest. 

Call us today at +1.202.872.0060 or 800.872.0067 or email to discuss your organization’s travel needs tailored to considerations involved while operating in Colombia.

Source: UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office and Clements Worldwide 

Contact a Clements Representative for Insurance Solutions

There is a high threat of both kidnapping and terrorism in Colombia from terrorist and criminal groups. There are active terrorists and armed gangs (known as "BACRIM" in Spanish), that are widespread through the country. Attacks can be indiscriminate, targeting public transport, industries like oil facilities, government buildings and other locations. Past terrorist attacks include car bombings, grenade attacks and explosive devices. Explosions have occurred in major cities like Bogota. More remote regions generally carry a higher level of risk.

Express kidnappings commonly occur, where victims are taken for a short period of time and extorted. Criminals will empty out their victim’s bank accounts with stolen credit cards. Often, kidnappings are indiscriminate and victims are picked up by taxis hailed from the street in major cities. There have been incidents of death when the victims don’t concede with the kidnapper’s demands. Other foreigners have also been targeted, such as oil and mining workers, security contractors and similar companies.

Colombia’s Defense Ministry reported just 219 kidnapping incidents in its last report, the lowest number in quite some time. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia was long responsible for a number of kidnappings to help raise money for its efforts, but in 2013 urged a stop to the practice as part of the peace process. In 2013, there were many reported cases of kidnapping incidents of foreign tourists and energy contractors by terrorist groups. Although all of the victims were ultimately released, kidnappings are an ongoing problem.     

On October 31, 2016 a sniper from the National Liberation Army (ELN) attacked and killed a Colombian soldier.

On October 27, 2016 the National Liberation Army (ELN) group carried out a terrorist attack that killed two truck drivers in Arauca. The attack followed suspension the initiation of peace talks by the Colombian government.

On October 18, 2016 the Colombian Army killed a National Liberation Army (ELN) soldier in an operation carried out in the northern region of the country. The army also captured 4 others.

On October 4, 2016 members of a Colombian guerrilla group bombed a section of an oil pipeline that supplied crude oil to the Caribbean Coast. The group used improvised explosive devices to carry out the attack. No injuries or deaths were reported.

On October 1, 2016 the Colombian Gulf Clan executed an intelligence agent working for the Colombian Police in the city of Antioquia.

On September 4, 2026, militants associated with the Ejército de Liberación Nacional (National Liberation Army, ELN) detonated several explosives in the eastern region of Colombia. No injuries or fatalities were reported.

On August 20, 2016, one soldier was injured by a bombing in Colombia's eastern Arauca region. The bomb also caused material damage to the local airport and adjacent properties.

On August 11, 2016, a motorcycle bomb exploded in the municipality of El Retorno (Guaviare). Two auxiliary police were wounded as well as two civilians and a child.

On August 5, 2016, the Seventh Army Division confirmed that the organized armed group Clan Gulf freed Cristofer professional soldier Rodriguez Cardozo, who had been abducted 18 hours earlier in Arboletes, Antioquia. Later, a member of the "Clan Gulf" group was detained in a military operation.

In order to mitigate the risk of tumultuous activities, Clements offers a Kidnap and Ransom insurance policy, which ensures financial assistance following a kidnapping, such as independent investigations, negotiations, arrangement and delivery of funds. In addition, a War and Terrorism Insurance policy from Clements offers the right coverage against the risks of civil unrest, war, riots, looting, and acts of terrorism.

Call us today at +1.202.872.0060 or 800.872.0067 or email to discuss your organization’s travel needs tailored to considerations involved while operating in Colombia.

Source: UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office, U.S. Dept of State, and Clements Worldwide

Contact a Clements Representative for Insurance Solutions