From a Los Angeles Times account of how the family and employer of slain reporter James Foley had been trying to raise cash to meet a ransom demand by the terrorists who were holding him captive:
U.S. officials discourage families or private companies from paying ransom, but the government doesn't block them. Many corporations are insured against ransom demands and pay them without public notice, former officials said.
The market for this insurance seems like a fine topic for further journalistic exploration. Can an American company get around American laws against transferring money to terrorist organizations simply by contracting with an insurance company to do it for them?