ABU DHABI // A new insurance policy will protect employers from financial losses when a domestic worker absconds, fails a visa-renewal medical test or dies.
For an annual premium of Dh100, the Domestic Helpers Protection Plan covers maids, drivers and other household staff aged between 18 and 64, employed by Emiratis or expatriates.
“AXA Green Crescent has aspired to make this policy as convenient and affordable as possible,” said its chief executive Hassan Bennour. “We are expecting a good response as we believe it addresses a real need in the market.
“The cost of the policy is Dh100, which is relatively inexpensive compared to the total costs for hiring and issuing a work visa and residency permit, which can range from Dh8,000 up to Dh20,000, depending on the nationality and whether the sponsors hire them directly or through an agency.”
AXA will pay for the repatriation of the domestic helper, or the repatriation of the deceased, and manage all the logistical and administrative processes on behalf of the sponsor.
It will also pay the sponsor a lump sum of Dh5,000 in case of death or failure to pass the mandatory medical examination.
Many maids flee their employers’ homes after complaining of unpaid salaries, overwork, lack of food and mistreatment.
However, some run away to look for a higher salary and better working conditions with another employer, and others become homesick or depressed and want to return home.
“Not all maids run away because of mistreatment,” said a Filipina who runs a recruitment agency in Abu Dhabi, who welcomed the initiative.
“When they abscond, the sponsor loses all the money he spent hiring her. For instance, they pay between Dh10,000 to Dh11,000 to bring a Filipina maid here through an agency.”
For an additional premium of Dh100 for a one-year policy, Axa covers the insured domestic helper when she passes away during the policy’s term.
“The optional death benefit offers valuable income protection for the employed domestic helper, who more often than not is the only breadwinner for their family in their home country,” Mr Bennour said.
“This benefit ensures that their dependents receive a once-off cash benefit of Dh50,000 in the unfortunate event of their passing away during the term of the insurance policy.”
The policy will help employers to fulfil their responsibilities to domestic workers who hold valid residence visas and work permits, said Dr Rashed Sultan Al Khedr, spokesman for Citizenship, Residence and Port Affairs at the Ministry of Interior, which supports the initiative.
Lt Col Hamad Al Nuaimi, chairman of the initiative supervising committee, said the focus was to offer a “creative” insurance plan.
The Insurance Authority said the policy would provide social protection to the community and make the local market and economy more competitive.