In recent days, the coronavirus outbreak has continued to grow in Hong Kong and may even have gone a bit out of control. For instance, a week ago, a domestic helper arriving in Hong Kong was tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, while her employer had also been tested positive earlier.
Under the law of Hong Kong, employers are required to purchase insurance for their maids, but is the medical cover of their insurance enough amid an epidemic? What should employers consider when purchasing insurance for their helpers?
Today, our Kwiksure article will dig deeper into the scope of coverage of maid insurance.
The legal obligations of maid employers
Under the law of Hong Kong, all employers must secure Employee Compensation insurance for their workers. If the worker is sick or injured during his/her employment, regardless of whether it is because of work, the employer still needs to offer medical care according to the employment contract.
Besides, unless the domestic helper is immediately dismissed for serious negligence, the employer may not dismiss the helper while she is on paid sick leave. Violators may be subject to criminal prosecution.
How to choose the right protection for your maid
There are many foreign domestic helper insurance options in the market, including basic and comprehensive domestic helper protections. However, the scope of coverage of each plan varies so how should the employer select the right one?
The basic maid insurance plans provided by most insurance companies only provide employer liability protection, which mainly protects the legal liability of employers in case of the domestic helper's physical injury, with a maximum compensation of HKD $100,000,000 for each accident. However, this form of insurance does not cover any medical expenses in the event of domestic helpers’ injury or illness. Therefore, if you want a higher level of protection, we would recommend purchasing comprehensive maid insurance.
Generally speaking, comprehensive maid insurance provides hospitalization and surgical coverage of up to HKD $25,000 to $30,000 each year, and some will have daily hospitalization income or cash allowance of HKD $200 to $350. However, most domestic helper insurance plans do not cover critical illnesses such as cancer and heart disease. If you want to provide further protection for your domestic helper, you may choose to secure critical illness insurance.
In addition to medical expenses, the coverage of comprehensive maid insurance includes dental care, personal accident, repatriation expenses, domestic helper replacement expenses, fidelity insurance protection, and more, to better meet the needs of employers. As for the coronavirus, it is best to check directly with your insurance company or agent since the specific coverage of each insurance plan is different.
Under what circumstances can a domestic helper be covered?
If the domestic helper has contracted the virus before arriving in Hong Kong, she would not be covered because she has not started working for the employer yet. As for maids who are about to complete their contracts but get infected, the employer can still file insurance claims in accordance with the terms and conditions.
However, if the maid gets sick during her stay in Hong Kong after the contract is completed, the employer will have no obligation as the contract has already ended. The domestic helper will have to pay for all medical expenses on her own.
Where should maids be quarantined after arrival?
Another issue closely related to domestic helper insurance is where maids should self-quarantine after arriving in Hong Kong. The government has previously stipulated that people arriving outside Hong Kong need to undergo quarantine for a period of 14 days.
Foreign domestic helpers usually stay in the employer's home. While employers can also arrange for them to live in other places, they will then need to pay for expenses such as accommodation costs and meal allowances. The Foreign Domestic Helper Association has emphasized that employers must not dismiss domestic helpers because they are sick, or they would violate the Disability Discrimination Ordinance.
Both employers and the Foreign Domestic Helper Association hope that the government can provide a place for maids to undergo quarantine as it will be easier to manage and can save employers additional accommodation expenses.
In fact, after the employer signs a contract with the domestic helper, they will be responsible for all medical and accommodation expenses of the maid upon their arrival, which would be a considerable expenditure if the maid needs extra accommodation. Therefore, many employers have chosen to delay the arrival of their maids to reduce expenses.
More insurance information related to coronavirus
Kwiksure’s weekly updated feature articles shed light on insurance trends and news events. If you want to learn more about the coronavirus and maid insurance, read our previous articles such as “How are the coronavirus restrictions affecting domestic helpers in HK?” and “Domestic helper contract and work visa renewal procedure in Hong Kong”.
With over 20 years of experience in the insurance industry, Kwiksure is an established insurance brokerage that specializes in motor insurance, motorbike insurance (both third-party and comprehensive insurance), travel insurance, home insurance, voluntary health insurance, and more. Contact us today for impartial insurance advice and a free quote.