Stalking is unwanted or tormenting attention by an individual or group toward another person. Stalking behaviours are related to intimidation and harassment. It may include following the victim or monitoring them. The word stalking is used, with some differing meanings, in psychology and psychiatry and also in some legal jurisdictions as a term for a criminal offence. It may be advisable for a potential victim to invest in a Stalker Insurance policy.
Having been used since at least the 16th century to refer to a prowler or a poacher, the term started to be used by the media in the 20th century. This describes people who pester and torment others, initially with specific reference to the harassment of celebrities by strangers who were described as being obsessed.
Selena Quintanilla-Parez’s tragic death offers a prime example of the worst case stalker scenario. Yolande Saldivar ran Selena’s fan club as well as a clothing boutique for the singer. People noticed that she obsessed over the songstress. She had what would be considered a shrine to the singer in her home, complete with posters, candles and videos.
Finally, after Saldivar began embezzling money from Selena’s fan club, the singer cut ties with her. Selena met with Salvidar to retrieve essential tax documents on 31 March 1995. This is when the former employee shot and killed Selena. Saldivar was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison.
Stalking is a crime usually associated with A-list celebrities, but its on the rise in the general population. Social media offers stalkers a new platform through which to identify and fixate on their victims. The UK Government updated stalking legislation for the first time in 15 years after it conducted a large scale investigation into the issue in 2013.
The Violence Against Women Act of 2005, amending A United States statute, 108 stat. 1902 et seq, defined stalking as “engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to –
a) fear for his or her safety or the safety of others;
b) suffer substantial emotional distress.
In the United States, during a 12 month period, an estimated 3.4 million persons age 18 or older were victims of stalking. Stalking is defined as a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.
To date, a stalker insurance policy has been offered by insurers against stalking has largely been reactive – crisis- response measures triggered by a stalking incident taking place. However, a new product has come to market which aims to reduce the risk of individuals falling prey to stalkers in the first place.
The policy, written in Guernsey by Griffin but 100% reinsured by a group of Lloyds underwriters led by Brit Syndicate combines proactive stalker threat assessment, security consultation and training, and crisis management coverage. The cover is extended to include a benefit for assault, and forms part of a bigger policy that also covers kidnap, extortion, hijack and detention risks.
There has been work done on something similar in the past, but the product design – which concentrated on the provision of armed guards after a loss, often for long periods of time, made it expensive and it never really got off the ground, said Imogen Lyndon-Skeggs, Underwriter and Director at Griffin.
Nobody ever wants to think it is going to happen to them, so the product was wrongly positioned. A policy designed to help make sure it does not happen in the first place is much more attractive than one that only covers you once it has happened.
Assessing Stalker Risk
Wealth, occupation, location and travel patterns are some of the key risk factors when assessing someone’s risk of being stalked. Demand for the product is highest amongst film, music and sports stars – heroes who attract fixated followers. A stalker insurance policy can be used by any at-risk individual or employers wishing to protect their executives or employers.
One of the biggest challenges of underwriting the risk is identifying whether or not the insurer is already a victim. The insurance company has to be careful that people are not buying the coverage because they are worried that they are already being stalked. Preventative training can help potential victims reduce the risk of falling victim to a stalker. It all boils down to being sensible about how you behave. Not having predictable lifestyles, not always using the same car and travel routes.
Arguably the most infamous stalker case, in which obsessed fan Mark David Chapman acquired John Lennon’s autograph having spent an afternoon outside the Beatles’s hotel in New York in 1980, before shooting him dead later than day.
Homeless Robert Dewey Hoskins was jailed for 10 years in 1996 after repeated violent threats and three attempts to get close to singer Madonna – the last of which saw him shot and wounded by bodyguards.
Psychologists often group individuals who stalk into two categories: psychotic and nonpsychotic. In “Study of Stalkers” Mullen et al. (2000) identified five types of stalkers:
Rejected stalkers pursue their victims in order to reverse, correct or avenge a rejection (e. g. divorce, separation, termination)
Resentful stalkers pursue a vendetta because of a sense of grievance against the victims – motivated mainly by the desire to frighten and distress the victim.
Intimacy seekers seek to establish an intimate, loving relationship with their victim. Such stalkers often believe that the victim is a long-sought-after soul mate, and they were meant to be together.
Incompetent suitors, despite poor social or courting skills, have a fixation or in some cases, a sense of entitlement to an intimate relationship with those who have attracted their amorous interest. Their victims are most often already in a dating relationship with someone else.
Predatory stalkers spy on the victim in order to prepare and plan an attack- often sexual – on the victim.
At the beginning of August 2014, five college women came forward to explain how gun free zones at colleges prevented them from protecting themselves from stalkers. Taylor Woolrich, a junior at Dartmouth College said that she had been stalked for four years. Her stalker, Richard Bennett is now in jail for the third time because he broke restraining orders. Bennett’s stalking forced her family to move, and made her a prisoner in her dorm room. Taylor’s stalker was already on a “no gun list”. He was a convicted felon and it is illegal for him to own a gun. Yet, background checks did not stop him from illegally acquiring a gun after his second stint in prison.
Tokio Marine & Fire Insurance Company, Japan’s biggest property and casualty insurance company said it will offer an insurance product to help cover costs for women who find they have to seek protection from stalkers. Services include the removal of wire-taps, coverage for hospitalisation and doctor’s visits.