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Cambodian Safety, Security & Insurance

We provide an overview of security, safety and insurance issues in Cambodia, the range of security services and equipment on offer and a profile of the insurance industry and available services in the Kingdom.

If you can’t find your answer here, just ask us at B2B and we’ll point you in the right direction.

Updated July 2020

Is Cambodia Safe?

  • The main safety issues in Cambodia mirror those that can be found in any country across the world.
  • In Phnom Penh and other urban centres, there are incidents of bag snatching, muggings and robberies, so it pays to be aware of your surroundings and avoid carrying valuable items or walking alone late at night in isolated areas. Foreign women with handbags are particularly targeted, especially at night time, so always be vigilant, whether on a motorbike, in a tuk-tuk or walking on the streets.
  • Violent crime against foreigners is extremely rare, most of the crime is opportunistic. It is generally restricted to those who associate with what are deemed dangerous areas of society or are in dangerous areas at the wrong times.
  • Cambodia is not necessarily a dangerous place, but risks are as high here as in other regional countries.
  • Road safety is undoubtedly a major concern, with the country’s roads and driving leading to a large loss of life but the government is trying to address this.
  • Road safety issues are particularly prevalent at night when police patrols are scarce, and traffic laws are often not adhered to. Drink driving is also common in Cambodia, especially in the provinces, so it is advised to avoid night-time driving when possible. The Cambodian Traffic Laws have been updated several times with increased fines in the hopes of regulating Cambodian road use and decreasing the Kingdom’s particularly high rate of road-related accidents. 
  • According to a National Road Safety Committee report, the number of road fatalities in Cambodia declined to 861 people in the first half of 2020. There were 4,121 road accidents in 2019, with 1,981 deaths and 6,131 injuries.
  • The government is trying to meet the 2030 global road safety agenda.
  • There are house break-ins reported, however, the number of condominiums and high rises would minimise this as they are less accessible to intruders. The risk remains on lower and ground floors.
  • The break-ins are thought to be symptomatic of the recent construction boom across Cambodia. Construction workers are underpaid and know how to break into houses/apartments etc – they even have the necessary tools. They are able to survey movements of houses next door to their construction site, determine the wealth of occupants, and assess access points. Again, these are often opportunistic crimes
  • As the rule of law is not enforced as stringent as in many other countries, you should not expect the same level of public police services as you would in more developed countries.
  • This also extends to the judicial system. If you are involved in an accident, keep in mind that the onus is on the individual to prove it was not deliberate.
  • However, quality insurance companies are there to assist in such situations and work to bring about a resolution.

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  • Houses and apartments in the Cambodian urban areas are often surrounded by fences topped with razor wire or glass shards. These come equipped with sturdy metal doors, gates and locks.
  • Windows will often be covered with metal bars and many housing complexes come complete with 24/7 security.
  • Most Cambodian businesses employ guards, although they are primarily there to watch over vehicles and help with parking.
  • Other security measures include alarms systems and card access control.
  • If you have one key, you may as well have 1000. Try to have only one point of entry to your home or business.
  • Keys are extremely easy to copy in Cambodia, and locks are easy to break.
  • House help and private security guards can represent a certain level of human risk as they assume positions of trust, yet may not attain a high enough salary to resist opportunist theft.
  • For those with the means, non-key personalised entry systems should avoid these issues, such as fingerprint or retina scanning systems, and cameras on main entry points.
  • Define your most “vital” security areas to protect, and then protect them.
  • It should be noted, very few foreigner deaths are reported from violent crimes in Cambodia.
  • If you are the victim of a crime, you should immediately contact your embassy or consulate and go to a police station to file a report which you will need for insurance reasons. It will help to have someone who can speak Khmer to assist with you.
  • The embassy should be able to provide you with help, including replacement of a stolen passport, getting medical attention, and connecting you with the relevant police services.
  • Call your embassy or a private security company at the beginning of your stay in Cambodia for a security brief related to your personal requirements.
  • In some cases, consular services are provided by another nation so, if your country has no embassy here, check with your government or a regional embassy to see who you should contact.
  • Most expat deaths in Cambodia are reported as heart attacks and autopsies are rarely carried out, unless the family members request and pay for this. You should ensure your family is aware of your rental/home situation and have local emergency contacts.
  • In the Cambodian provinces, car and motorcycle accidents are more common, especially at night when many streets and vehicles are unlit and traffic rules tend to be disregarded.
  • It’s generally advisable not to travel by road at night in rural areas.
  • Despite the best efforts of the nation’s de-miners, some of the more remote areas still have landmines so it is advised not to go trekking without a guide and to always stick to well-worn tracks.
  • Western-style medical clinics are few and far between and there are few ambulance services outside of the capital. Injuries sustained in the provinces can be more threatening than those in urban areas; take extra care and treat any wounds immediately.
  • Since 2008, Neth Savouen has been Commissioner General of the Cambodian National Police force, which has about 64,000 officers and is divided into four autonomous units and five central departments.
  • Provincial Commissioners in Cambodia’s 25 provinces report to national headquarters at the Ministry of the Interior. The provinces are further divided into districts (khan), and communes (Sangkat), each of which has its own police station, chief, and deputy chief.
  • The National Police is divided into six departments that take in security, transport, public safety, border control, administrative, and judicial.
  • Only judicial police are authorised to make arrests, but amendments to the Criminal Procedure law have extended this authority to ranking officers of other divisions, inspectors, civilian government officials, and the entire Gendarmerie.
  • Police authorised to make arrests can legally detain an adult suspect for up to 48 hours. The Department of Foreigners is responsible for all cases concerning non-citizens, including visa issues.
  • Military Police are also organised along the divisions of nation, province, Khan, and Sangkat, with a chain of command running down from the High Command of the Cambodian Armed Forces in Phnom Penh to the local Sangkat offices. Lieutenant-General Sao Sokha is the current commander of the Gendarmerie.
  • Protection of government properties and visiting international delegations is handled exclusively by the two police forces, with no assistance from the Private Security Industry.
  • Lack of manpower and financial support can limit the reach of the Cambodian police, especially at night so they cannot always be solely relied on for assistance.
  • While Cambodia is a relatively safe country, as with anywhere else in the world, taking measures to stay safe is vital.
  • As the rule of law is not enforced as stringent as in many other countries, you should not expect the same level of public services as you would in more developed countries.
  • This extends to the judicial system so if you find yourself involved in a dispute, whether personal or related to your business, it’s advisable to attempt to find a resolution outside of the court system or through an arbitrator. This alone is a big justification for purchasing local insurance as all providers are aware of the situation and claims are unlikely to get stuck in processing due to continual requests for more information or the lack of a police report.
  • If you are involved in an accident, keep in mind that the onus is on the individual to prove it was not deliberate. However, insurance companies are there to assist in such situations and work to bring about a resolution.
  • Security guards are very popular in Cambodia, yet remain one of the least respected and lowest paid professions.
  • There are a large number of men, and increasingly women, employed by security companies, of which there are around 100 in Cambodia.
  • Often bedecked in blue, black or brown uniforms that resemble military fatigues, it is also not uncommon to find police officers moonlighting as guards.
  • Rates vary from company to company, but you can expect to pay around US$150 a month for a guard to work an eight-hour a day, seven day a week shift.
  • One issue is that companies often underpay and undervalue guards in Cambodia and subsequently suffer the consequences of potentially untrained, undisciplined and unloyal security personnel.
  • A guard company’s response policy in the event of a crime is very important.
  • Ask the security company you choose what the guard will do in the scenario of a break-in, for example. Some will merely call the police, while others will take proactive steps to stop the crime.
  • It should be noted that security companies in Cambodia are forbidden by law to carry firearms. Armed police guards can be obtained from the Ministry of Interior, typically when the security company needs them to service clients such as financial institutions.
  • Each security company has a dedicated police liaison and these relationships offer mutual benefits.
  • Higher levels of security can be seen around Phnom Penh and Siem Reap near sensitive government offices and the homes of the elite and government members.
  • Roads will often be blocked off and a large police presence will become visible if the Prime Minister, the King or visiting international dignitaries are on the move.
  • Home and business security systems including safes, vaults, CCTV cameras, alarm systems, access control systems and other devices are also widely available, and many of the security service providers can also supply and install such equipment.
  • Some of the larger general security firms can also assist with data security, though there are numerous IT companies specialising in this area.
  • Any good security company will begin with a site survey, which generally includes an assessment, recommendation and assignment instructions for security staff.
  • This means security is never a one-size-fits-all affair, but rather that the services of a particular company are geared towards your needs.
  • These can include Manned Security Services (MSS), Electronic Security Services (ESS), Cash In Transit (CIT) and Facilities Security Services (FSS).
  • MSS includes guards, patrols and bodyguards. ESS includes electronic gates, Closed Circuit Television Cameras (CCTV Security Cameras), and other measures.
  • FSS encompasses the other services that a company can offer including drivers, gardeners, cleaners, maintenance and so forth. As mentioned earlier, CIT involves the secure movement of cash or valuables from point to point in an armoured vehicle.
  • All licensed security companies are required to operate from the Ministry of Interior (MoI).

Cambodia: Safety, Security and Insurance Top Tips

B2B call on our panel of experts to share what they have learnt about safety, security and insurance in Cambodia.

  • Health insurance packages for individuals, families, and staff generally fall into two categories: hospitalisation only and hospitalisation including outpatient. 
  • Medical insurance often does not include dental.
  • Most expatriates will look for insurance cover that includes medivac to more renowned hospital care in nearby countries for emergencies.
  • Almost all policies sold to expatriates cover medical evacuation to Bangkok or Singapore, with limits ranging from $500,000 to $1,000,000.
  • See the medical and pharmaceutical section for more info on health insurance options.
  • Bag snatches and pickpocketing are perennial problems, with thieves operating in crowded areas and at tourist attractions. People being dragged off motos after thieves grabbed their bags or accosted at night and being robbed do get reported. The opportunistic crimes are more common late at night and closer to major holidays.
  • You can minimise the risk by keeping valuables hidden, especially when walking or using a moto or tuk tuk.
  • Avoid using ATMs late at night and only carry with you what you’re prepared to lose.
  • If you live in a dark street, don’t travel home alone at night or, if you have to, take a taxi.
  • If someone tries to snatch or demands your possessions, it is safest to calmly hand over your belongings and avoid making eye contact with the attacker.
  • Avoid holding your phone up to your ear near the street as it can easily be snatched.
  • If you have barred windows on each floor make sure you have at least one escape trap on the bars and a hidden key on the inside of the wall, in case of fire.
  • There are many reasons for the high crime. Police are underpaid and lack the resources to fight crime. There is a lack of real law enforcement, although the government has made great strides in countering corruption, it’s still a contributor to high crime.
  • Due to the scale of poverty, many homeless people are at times left with no choice but to choose crime in order to survive.
  • The minimum wage in Cambodia is one of the lowest in Asia, although it has increased.
  • Alcohol and illegal drugs are relatively cheap in Cambodia.
  • The disparity between the extreme wealthy and poor breeds jealousy, resentment and anger.
  • The boom in the construction business creates opportunities for poorly paid workers to access neighbouring homes and offices. Workers know how to install windows and doors, and defeat them.
  • The most dangerous places in Cambodia are the nation’s highways. At night time, most drivers disregard traffic lights and road rules. This is due to a lack of enforcement of traffic laws, and many suburban roads are in bad shape, without adequate lighting. 
  • Few drivers have attended international driving schools. Many vehicles are poorly maintained, such as the many ageing vans that deliver people and goods to and from the countryside. Accidents are common but the government has tried to tighten up on vehicle roadworthiness, licenses and new fines.
  • Security services are becoming ever more prevalent with gated communities on the rise. More advanced security systems are also being installed alongside security guards at most locations.
  • If you hire a security firm, be sure to check their credentials first.

Insurance in Cambodia

Cambodia’s insurance industry is rapidly expanding, with major international players entering the market.

Find out how to stay safe and the best ways to protect your health, home and business. And as Cambodians start to realise the benefits that investing in insurance can bring, this sector looks set to grow well into the future.

  • Yes, insurance is an essential element to ensuring peace of mind, with life insurance including medical evacuation highly recommended in Cambodia.
  • The insurance industry has developed a lot in recent years, experiencing huge growth as more international and local competitors, such as Manulife, Prudential, Cambodia Life Insurance, AIA and People & Partners Insurance entered the market. Packages are also available for travel, vehicle, home and business insurance.
  • By the end of 2019, there were 13 general insurance companies in Cambodia, 11 life insurance providers and 7 involved in microinsurance, according to the Ministry of Economy and Finance. The industry’s total assets in 2019 was $427 million, while it paid out over $25 million in claims.
  • According to the Insurance Association of Cambodia (IAC), by the end of 2019, Cambodia life insurance companies had gross premiums growing from $100 million in 2018 to $143 million in 2019.
  • Cambodia’s Insurance Laws are undergoing reviews, vehicle insurance is not currently required by law, but in 2019, the law was said to be nearing completion, requiring all vehicles to have insurance in Cambodia.
  • Insurance in Cambodia is becoming more and more available and affordable with more options available.
  • Cambodians have been somewhat hesitant about the concept of insurance. Insurance is a relatively new concept to Cambodian culture as it was introduced less than 20 years ago. Cambodians had lost confidence in financial institutions after the war.
  • Another reason behind this is possibly that it sits in contrast to their Buddhist beliefs. By suggesting predicting that something bad could happen, you could be ’re-evoking negative karma upon yourself- this has made it difficult to market insurance in the past.
  • As the economy improves and there is more expendable money, more Cambodian also travel abroad and see the benefits of insurance and more Cambodians are realising the benefits investing in insurance can bring.
  • Insurance has also been offered to current and prospective employees as part of an employment incentive.
  • The Cambodian Ministry of the Interior (MOI) licenses private security companies and they also supply armed bodyguards to the security companies.
  • The Law of Insurance and the Ministry of Economics and Finance (MEF) and the National Bureau of Insurance (NBI) regulates insurance.
  • There is also the Insurance Association of Cambodia (IAC), an organization that encompasses all the licensed non-life and life insurers and the national reinsurer.
  • Insurance is an essential element to business in Cambodia – as Cambodia’s economy continues to grow, the investment in both assets and people need to be insured to ensure the ongoing viability of a business.
  • Choosing the right insurance company and policies can help reduce the risks to your business or person.
  • According to the Law on Insurance, there are four kinds of insurance companies: life insurance, general insurance, micro-insurance and reinsurance.
  • Given the state of health care in Cambodia, health insurance, including medical evacuation, is highly recommended. Health insurance is increasingly being offered to current and prospective employees as an employment incentive. This is also beneficial for companies as it can reduce downtime. If the employer is giving employees a good health product then they know that their employees are going to get reasonable care in the clinic and perhaps will only be off work for one to two days instead of three or four.
  • Properties can be insured up to the cost of construction by owners or renters.
  • The majority of companies in Cambodia invest in property insurance so, for example, if the business were a manufacturing factory then this would protect them against the danger of fire and flooding. There has also been a surge in businesses buying interruption policies.
  • Properties can be insured up to the cost of construction by owners or renters.
  • Taking out property insurance if you’re renting, unless it’s written in your lease agreement that you are not responsible for damages to the house, is wise also. These documents are typically very small and may be unclear about the liability for damage to the building.
  • Take note that a Fire Tariff, introduced in July 2014, regulates not only the pricing but also coverage on any property risk up to $10 million for any one location. As a result, many companies have been surprised to see significant increases in their premium for this class of insurance. Thankfully it is a class of business which does not normally have a high frequency of losses, however, when a fire happens it can be severe enough to financially cripple the business if no insurance is in place. Of equal importance to having fire insurance, is to know about the security behind the insurer: Does the insurer have a panel of reinsurers that are financially rated ‘A’?
  • General insurance is available from a number of domestic and international firms. Policies cover a broad spectrum of risk including fire; automobile; health; home; group personal accident; public, professional and product liability; theft; trip; marine cargo; and electronic equipment, industrial and building risks.
  • According to Cambodian law, any registered company must have insurance from a locally registered insurance company but many companies still purchase premiums from abroad.
  • There are several laws and Prakas governed by the Ministry of Economy and Finance that determine or limit the liability of parties involved, though in terms of automobile accidents foreigners are likely to have to pay for any damages.
  • Car insurance is, by law, provided by local companies and will only cover a maximum of $10,000 worth of own damage or $100,000 to third parties. A new law being mooted by the Government would mean all private car owners must have a minimum of third-party liability insurance (this was still being reviewed in 2019.)
  • Currently, only commercial vehicles are required to by law to have insurance.
  • Life insurance, a product that did not exist in the Kingdom until 2012, is increasingly playing a vital role in the market. The first provider, Cambodia Life, of which the government owns 51%, is a partnership between them and PT Asuransi Central Asia, Asian Insurance Co ltd, Bangkok Life Assurance Plc and Bangkok Insurance Co Ltd. Manulife and Prudential Assurance are two major international firms that have recognised the potential in the Cambodian marketplace and established wholly-owned subsidiaries here.
  • When choosing corporate healthcare packages for employees, costs can vary between expats and Cambodian staff.
  • The range of premiums between locals and expats is significant, with most locals having an annual premium between $75 to $200 with no evacuation cover and limited access to neighbouring countries.
  • Meanwhile, expats can expect to pay over $1,000, however, this often covers evacuation expenses and access to medical facilities in other countries.
  • Some companies offer a cashless health insurance claim system which means no payment is necessary at the time of treatment.
  • This is important when insuring local staff who may not have the cash available to pay clinic fees at short notice.
  • Group Personal Accident policies have become increasingly popular for companies wishing to insure staff.
  • This only covers accidents, not a sickness, and the maximum payout is low, but it is available for only a few dollars per employee, per month.
  • It hasn’t been long since the very first broker was licensed in Cambodia. Whilst direct distribution remains the dominant distribution channel, intermediated business, whether it be insurance brokers or insurance agents, are here to stay and will grow as the Cambodian economy and insurance market grows with it.
  • From an insurers perspective this is an important development that can be good and bad, good in that it allows business to be written at a lower margin, bad from the perspective that the relationship shifts to the intermediary.
  • Because the broker works on behalf of the client, the insured, they can offer a wide range of insurance and services, especially if they are an international broker. An agent on the other hand, acts solely on behalf of the insurance company, meaning they are restricted in what they can offer.
  • There has been increased coverage on property and fire, medical, engineering, personal accident, and marine, aviation and transport insurance in Cambodia.
  • With more and more Cambodians understanding the importance of being insured, the industry is growing.
  • Cambodia has an insurance penetration rate of only 10% of the population, and its middle class is the fastest growing in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
  • Recently, more international and local competitors are offering insurance in Cambodia.
  • Khmers are somewhat hesitant about the concept of insurance but this is changing as the middle class grows and more Cambodians travel abroad too.
  • Cambodians increasingly know risks exist and they have enough assets that their risk is significant. Insurance gives peace of mind in protecting those assets.
  • Insurance is increasingly being offered to current and prospective employees as part of an employment incentive.
  • One of the key roles of an employer is to provide health insurance for employees. It is important because it reduces downtime. If the employer is giving them a good health product then they know that their employees are going to get reasonable care in the clinic and perhaps will only be off work for one to two days instead of three or four.
  • The Insurance Association of Cambodia (IAC) is very conscious of the need to educate local Cambodians about the benefits of insuring. Supported by its members, IAC in conjunction with the Ministry of Economy and Finance conducts regional seminars in key population areas.
  • There is no restriction on foreigners investing in insurance businesses in Cambodia, but an insurance company must be registered in the form of a public limited liability company.
  • Specialised security firms like ProSec have also been created to offer VIP and celebrity/guest protection services in Cambodia while private investigations firm Crest Hawk Investigations is a British detective agency. C4 Adventures also offers crisis management and evacuation services in Cambodia.
  • Thinking of your future is important wherever you are in the world and financial security plays an important role, including pension options in Cambodia.
  • Both corporate and individual pension plans are available in Cambodia. And with certain companies offering options to transfer policies if clients move countries, investing in the future is worthwhile.
  • There are several companies in Cambodia that offer pension plans, with proof of identification and address generally being the only documents needed to complete the pension process.
  • Proof of identification and an address is needed to complete the pension process.
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