Diplomacy: Persona Non Grata Insurance

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In his office in rural Maidenhead, Insurance Broker John Dobbin opened his London Times last week, scanned the big story from Moscow, and reached apprehensively for a list of his clients. He breathed a sigh of relief. Of the ten British and U.S. diplomats who had been declared persona non grata by the Soviet government, none had insured his stay in Moscow with J. N. Dobbin & Co.

Since 1960, the firm has offered a unique policy to protect Western diplomatic and military officers against the prime hazard on assignment to Moscow: sudden expulsion, and the often considerable personal loss that it involves, from the cost of Russian lessons to the tab for the farewell party. For a $210 annual premium, a Western foreign service officer can get the $5,000 persona non grata coverage for two years, the average tour of duty. As the word of Dobbin's diplomatic coverage got around, personnel assigned to the other Iron Curtain capitals have also sent to Maidenhead for P.N.G. policies. To date, Dobbin and his clients have been lucky. Of some 50 diplomats thus insured, only two have collected consolation money.