A new free insurance product for domestic helpers in the UAE from global insurer Axa Gulf and financial technology company Rise is aimed at offering better protection to low-income migrant workers.
The life and disability cover offers domestic workers signed up to the Rise platform up to Dh3,000 in protection in the event of accidental death or disability, with an upgraded policy, at a cost of Dh5 a month, offering up to Dh25,000. The technology for the new product comes from Democrance, a digital platform connecting low-income customers to insurance providers.
“Despite the safety nets which exist in the UAE, ‘not being able to send money home’ remains a top-of-mind risk," Michal Matul, senior adviser to AXA Emerging Customers, said in a statement on Tuesday. "Half of the workers we surveyed couldn’t send money home at least once last year, mostly due to sickness, accidents or job loss. This stems from the fact that apart from the national health plan, the majority of migrant workers do not have any other private insurance."
Many low-income residents in the Emirates support family members in their home countries, with the UAE the second- biggest outward remittance country in the world after the US in 2017, according to the World Bank. In 2018, total outward remittances from the Emirates totalled Dh169.2 billion, according to the Central Bank of the UAE.
However, protecting those remittances or the incomes fuelling them is not commonplace among low-salaried workers. While mandatory health insurance exists in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, it is not compulsory to have life or critical illness cover in place.
Mr Matul said insurance covering family members at home "is a critical need".
"In the UAE, three-quarters of workers were faced with emergency cash demands from home at least once last year, which they have a hard time addressing, for example through expensive loans," he added.
According to Rise, the new product is based on a freemium model, with the company’s tens of thousands of customers offered the insurance on a complimentary basis. The basic, free package offers a payout of Dh3,000 in the event of accidental death or disability.
An enhanced version, which costs Dh5 a month, covers the cost of repatriating a body to a home country as well as medical expenses, such as hospital stays or bills, in the event an employee is ill or injured and can no longer work.
The medical expenses protection, which helps to compensate for loss of income, pays a fixed amount per night spent in a hospital and any medical bills, Michele Grosso, the Democrance chief executive and co-founder, told The National.
The founders of Rise, which helps domestic workers save, invest and borrow, said the insurance complements their existing products.
“Our customers are often the sole breadwinners for their families and any event which impacts them or impacts their family back home, puts stress on the entire family unit,” said Padmini Gupta and Milind Singh, co-founders of Rise.
Rise customers can use their phone to sign up for the product on the company's platform, where they must list their financial beneficiary and decide if they want any pay out as a lump sum form, or through monthly remittances to their chosen family member. Any purchases of higher cover or insurance claims can also be made via the platform.