The government plans to introduce a new insurance scheme offering more facilities to Bangladeshi expats from December this year as the existing insurance policy will expire at the end of 2022.
The new plan, which will be implemented by the state-owned Jiban Bima Corporation, includes increasing the insurance coverage up to Tk5 lakh from the existing Tk4 lakh, reducing the premium and extending of the police to five years instead of two years.
This means that Bangladeshi expats will be eligible for insurance support in the event of death or serious injury during the five-year insured period.
Ahmed Munirus Saleheen, secretary of the Ministry of Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment, told The Business Standard that they would further expand the scope and benefits of the insurance.
“The government is working to make the formal channels more attractive so that more people go abroad and send money home. We will soon implement the new insurance policy,” he said. added.
According to the new insurance scheme, the single premium will be 200-250 Tk, as the amount is now 490 Tk.
Jiban Bima Corporation says it is planning such a policy after being instructed by the high level of government to provide special benefits to “remittance warriors”.
The new program also offers support for expats if they need to return home after losing their jobs six months or a year after migration, according to the company.
However, the company says there is no data available on how many workers return home each year after losing their jobs.
The public insurer said it would finalize the program after obtaining information from the Wage Earners’ Welfare Board.
Jiban Bima Corporation prepared the new plan on July 28 following a meeting to review insurance benefits provided to expatriate workers on April 12. Representatives of Wage Earners’ Welfare Board, Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training, Bangladesh Overseas Employment and Services Limited, Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment and Financial Institutions Division were present at this meeting.
During this meeting, the company was invited to submit an insurance plan with greater facilities for expatriates.
“Expats are people worthy of the country. They are now the lifeline of the country’s economy. As the remittances they send play an important role, the new program has been designed to offer them better services. “, said Saiful Islam, managing director of the Jiban Bima Corporation, told The Business Standard,
Jiban Bima insurance is compulsory for all Bangladeshi nationals traveling abroad for work. The Wage Earners’ Welfare Board collects bonuses on behalf of expatriates and pays them to the company.
In 2016, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina issued instructions to impose insurance on all outgoing workers. In December 2019, she inaugurated the insurance scheme for expatriates.
Referring to the Prime Minister’s measures, Saiful Islam said everyone at the political level wanted to provide more facilities for expatriates.
According to company officials, the insurance was Tk2 lakh at the start with a premium of Tk990. The duration of the insurance policy was initially two years.
In December 2020, the Wage Earners’ Welfare Board signed a new contract with Jiban Bima Corporation after the agreement expired. The premium was later reduced to Tk 490, the coverage was increased up to Tk 4 lakh and the period of insurance remained unchanged.
This agreement will expire in December this year, paving the way for the new regime.
The secretary of the Ministry of Expatriate Welfare said the government is taking initiatives to identify the problems expatriate workers face when sending remittances home through a formal channel. Officials from the ministry, central bank and banking sector will visit major overseas labor markets to see various other issues of Bangladeshis working overseas, he told TBS, referring to the government plans for migrant welfare. “We are working on improving the facilities for expatriate workers at airports in Bangladesh. We are also trying to provide them with better services at our overseas missions,” said Ahmed Munirus Saleheen, saying a coverage of wider insurance will be part of a series of things planned to serve. remittance warriors are better.
In addition, ongoing services such as legal support and loan facilities will be made more efficient while measures will be taken for proper reintegration once expatriates return home, he added.
A good deal too
In Bangladesh, about 6 lakh workers go abroad every year. Since the launch of the insurance in 2019, the company receives Tk 490 from each of the workers.
As young people make up a large portion of overseas workers, Jiban Bima Corporation has faced fewer insurance claims – raking in profits for the state-run organization every year.
According to the Ministry of Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment, the company received Tk 53.34 crore as a bonus for 853,573 workers from December 2019 to 2021. Against the bonus, Jiban Bima had paid the claims insurance of Tk 2.72 crore of 103 expatriate workers.
A Jiban Bima official said an insurance claim is only filed when an expatriate dies abroad. They usually do not get a claim even if the workers suffer serious injuries.
“Injured or ill people do not file insurance claims because they are abroad. Also, the company cannot verify such a claim if the claimant is not in the country. Therefore, we grant priority to insurance claims in the event of death,” the official added while speaking to TBS on condition of anonymity.
Chowdhury Rafiqul Abrar, Executive Director of the Refugee and Migrant Movements Research Unit (RMMRU) told TBS that a broad campaign should be carried out so that expatriates know the details of the insurance scheme and draw the maximum benefit from the initiative.
He said that the process of obtaining insurance benefits or the insurance claim process should be much easier so that expatriate workers or their families get the desired service without hassle.
The premium should not be given as a subsidy, Dr Abrar suggested, as he believed that expatriates would own the insurance scheme once they pay the premium themselves.