New work-from-home insurance plan covers mental health counselling and ergonomic injuries

The policy by Chubb is believed to be the first specifically for working from home here. PHOTO: GIN TAY

SINGAPORE - Employers who want to provide insurance coverage for their employees for stress or ergonomic injuries sustained while working at home now have a new option to do so.

Insurer Chubb on Tuesday (July 14) announced a new Work from Home Insurance policy which covers risks ranging from mental health issues to tripping over toys.

The annual premium per employee is $38.

Mr Ben Howell, deputy head of regional accident and health at Chubb in Asia-Pacific, said the product was launched as the firm expects companies will continue to encourage workspace flexibility even as lockdown measures are easing across the region.

"Although employees have adjusted well to being digitally connected from home via videoconferencing and other applications, there are emerging risks as a result of this new work arrangement," he said.

This is believed to be the first policy specifically for working from home here, though other insurers often cover working from home under existing group plans such as those for personal accidents.

Chubb's policy provides $2,000 for surgery for postural injuries or strains resulting from poor workstation setups, as well as $250 for on-site consultation and another $250 for new furniture recommended by an occupational therapist to improve the ergonomics of the home office.

A $500 mental health payment per employee is covered if psychological counselling is needed for someone diagnosed with stress disorders due to working from home.

Employees are also covered for accidental death or total and permanent disability if they slip and fall at home from hazards such as stairs and toys, or get seriously burned while cooking. They are also covered when working outside the home or on the move.

Other insurers have also enhanced their corporate or business insurance policies in recent months to include benefits such as free Covid-19 coverage and premium deferrals.

For example, AIA Singapore is offering free Covid-19 coverage to corporate customers until Dec 30 or 30 days after the Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (Dorscon) level has gone down to green, whichever is earlier. Green, the lowest alert status, would indicate that the risk of infection by the coronavirus is low or the disease is mild.

As of July 8, over 320 individual and corporate customers have received benefit payments from free Covid-19 coverage, said AIA chief corporate solutions officer Alvin Fu.

Last month, AXA Insurance said existing and new customers of its SmartPlan business insurance scheme who renew or enrol from June 1 to Aug 31 will receive an additional month of free insurance coverage with their annual policy.

Companies could also pay these premiums via monthly interest-free instalments, to ease pressure on their cash flow.

Prudential Singapore allows small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to defer premium payments for group insurance policies for up to three months, if they apply for the deferral by Dec 31.

The firm also offers a one-time $500 cash payout for employees of corporate and SME customers and their immediate family members who were served quarantine orders, and a $200 daily hospitalisation allowance for up to three months if they were hospitalised for Covid-19. This applied to cases that surfaced between Jan 23 and June 30.

Meanwhile, Great Eastern's group insurance customers can apply to pay annual premiums in quarterly instalments to ease their cash flow, said its managing director for general and group insurance Jimmy Tong.

The firm also rolled out an insurance plan for self-employed, freelance and gig economy workers last month in a tie-up with telehealth start-up Doctor Anywhere. The annual renewable Great Comprehensive Care plan covers hospitalisation income, personal accident coverage and outpatient care.

Tokio Marine Life Insurance Singapore chief marketing officer Gilbert Pak said corporate clients can apply to pay premiums by instalments, subject to approval on a case-by-case basis. The firm is also working to enhance paperless processes such as for claims submission, new sign-ups and renewals, to support remote working.

Checks with five insurers showed that despite the risks of Covid-19, there has not been an increase in companies taking up corporate insurance plans, though Great Eastern's Mr Tong said there has been more interest in such plans.

AXA Singapore managing director for commercial lines Kevin Leong added: "Insurance is even more relevant and critical in times such as this where companies are especially vulnerable to many risks. The purpose of insurance is to ensure business sustainability in the worst-case scenario. It is also a way of protecting employees, suppliers or even customers."

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