The families of 264 deceased expatriates received Tk 8.36 crore against insurance claims in the last two and a half years, according to official data.
The Wage Earners’ Welfare Board (WEWB) introduced mandatory insurance coverage to ensure the financial protection of expat workers with benefits in case of their death or disability. The WEWB signed an agreement with the Jiban Bima Corporation (JBC) to implement mandatory insurance coverage from December 19, 2019.
Under this scheme, JBC has paid off insurance claims of 264 policy holders from 2020 to 31 July 2022, the state-owned corporation’s data said.
Initially, there were 2 types of insurance benefits under the “Probashi Kormi Bima” policy, both of which were applicable for workers aged 18-58 years. Among them, the insurance plan-1 policy worth Tk 2,00,000 had a 2-year term and Tk 990 premium. The insurance plan-2 policy worth Tk 5,00,000 also had a 2-year term, but the premium was Tk 2,475.
Later, insurance plan-2 was cancelled and insurance plan-1 was amended from 17 January 2021. The premium was fixed at Tk 490 and the insurance sum was increased to Tk 4,00,000.
According to Jiban Bima Corporation data, 15,14,622 expatriate workers were covered under this insurance scheme from 2019 to July 31, 2022, and the total premium collected was Tk 84.82 crore.
Zahurul Haque, the former managing director of Jiban Bima Corporation, said that the number of incidents of customer harassment in the state-owned corporation is almost nil. “Insurance claims are only filed when an expatriate dies abroad. An appeal is usually not made even if a worker is seriously injured or disfigured. As a result, the insurance claim payout amount of this scheme is not high,” he said.
The insurance scheme for expat workers allows for 3 types of benefits. In the case of the death of a policyholder during the coverage period, the nominee will get a 100 per cent benefit. But that is not the only case where the policyholder or nominee will get the full benefit.
In case the policyholder suffers complete disability of their eyesight and limbs or becomes paralysed, a 100 per cent benefit will be given against the policy. In case of partial disability or paralysis, they will receive benefits ranging from 10 per cent to 50 per cent of the sum depending on the extent of the loss.
This correspondent spoke to Mantaj Mia of Narsingdi, whose son Baten Mia, an expatriate worker, died abroad. However, as Baten Mia took out a policy of the expatriate insurance scheme before going abroad for work, his father received Tk 4,00,000 under the coverage of the policy.
When asked whether he is aware of the various benefits of this scheme, Shamim Rana, a Saudi expatriate from Borhanuddin Upazila, Bhola, said, “I only know that expatriate workers’ insurance has been introduced. But I didn’t know so many benefits are available for such a small premium.”
Talking further about the policy, Shamim Rana called for increasing benefits related to the insurance.
“Especially, the sum of insurance money should be increased. Plus, the insurance policy term is not enough,” he said, calling for increasing the term to at least 10 years.
Jiban Bima Corporation Manager (Probasi Karmi Bima Cell) Md Mosharraf Hossain told The Business Post that an action plan has been taken to bring all expatriate workers under the scope of insurance in the future.
“The scheme will become more popular if the benefits of expatriate insurance are promoted among expatriate workers,” he said.
Insurance Development and Regulatory Authority (IDRA) Executive Director and Spokesperson SM Shakeel Akhtar told The Business Post that every year around 1 million working people go abroad for work. They are now the main driving force of the economy.
“Bangladesh’s image in the world has improved after introducing the system to provide financial benefits to the families of expatriate workers under insurance,” he added.