Filipinos working overseas (OFW’s) are always exposed to a lot of physical risks. They travel from their apartments/housing camps to work either by train, shuttle bus services, by cars on highways, bicycles, or even on foot.
In hazardous workplaces like factories, mills, chemical plants, and even offices, OFW’s face everyday fears of accidents and tragedies while thinking about their loved ones back home.
But the most alarming part in this already worrisome conditions of our OFW’s is that most of them and their families are not protected enough with insurance.
When an OFW passes away due to accident or even by natural cause, his or her family back home is left with almost nothing but the last payment from his/her employer. And maybe a few more from the government’s grant or financial aid.
Life Insurance, A Must for OFW’s – Recruitment Agencies Are Responsible
Many OFW’s are probably not aware that their manning/recruitment agencies are the ones responsible to pay for their life insurance. Moreover, the insurance premiums are being charged by agencies to most OFW’s before they leave the Philippines.
According to the insurance guidelines of Republic Act 10022 relative to compulsory insurance coverage for agency-hired OFW’s:
Section 2. Liability of Recruitment/Manning Agency – In case it is shown by substantial evidence before the POEA that the migrant worker who was deployed by a licensed recruitment/manning agency has paid for the premium or the cost of the insurance coverage or that the said insurance coverage was used as basis by the recruitment/manning agency to claim any additional fee from the migrant worker, the said licensed recruitment/manning agency shall lose its license and all its directors, partners, proprietors, officers and employees shall be perpetually disqualified from engaging in the business of recruitment of overseas workers. Such penalty is without prejudice to any other liability which such persons may have incurred under existing laws, rules or regulations.
For this purpose, insurance companies shall not accept any payment of premiums from agency-hired migrant workers.
But still, the benefits from this insurance coverage may not be enough for an ordinary OFW. Especially those who have many family members to support financially.
OFW’s Benefits Under OWWA
OFW’s and their beneficiaries are also entitled to some similar benefits under the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration’s “insurance” program.
I. SOCIAL BENEFITS
A. Disability and Dismemberment Benefit Disability / dismemberment benefit of up to Php 100,000.00 for injuries sustained due to accidents while working abroad.
B. Death Benefit – A Php 100,000.00 benefit in case of death due to natural cause and Php 200,000.00 in case of death due to accident, shall be received by the legal heirs.
C. Burial Benefit – On top of the death benefit, a rider of Php 20,000.00 shall be received by the legal heir for the funeral expenses.
If an OFW dies, the insurance benefits above will not be able to support the beneficiaries/family members for long.
This will not be enough even for a family of two.
Save Money for Insurance
OFW’s must have their comprehensive life insurance plans while working abroad. They should take the initiative to pay for the premium by themselves for the benefit of their respective families back in the Philippines.
Some employers are generous enough to provide both medical and life insurance coverages for expat employees. But foreign companies who give such are few and seldom.
While saving and investing money and keeping some for emergency, an OFW must take the step now to assess his risks and needs, and then enroll in an insurance program to protect himself and his family members.
He can either look for a life insurance product in the country of his work, or buy one on his next vacation in the Philippines.
Seek advice from an insurance agent or a financial planner to know how much insurance you need. However, always take the following precautions.
1. Make sure that you will buy the type of insurance that fits you and that affordable for you.
2. Have a background check of the insurance company and the financial advisor before you close the deal.
3. A concerned insurance agent or financial advisor will not rush you to buy his insurance product. If he does, tell him that you will take time to study the insurance product first before you decide. Then look for other options and another insurance agent instead.
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Photo credit: Alan Cleaver