Close to 9,000 ComfortDelGro drivers to get free prolonged medical leave insurance

The taxi operator is expected to shell out almost $1 million for the insurance. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Close to 9,000 ComfortDelGro cabbies and private-hire drivers will be covered by a free insurance policy starting Friday (July 1) that will provide daily cash payouts of up to $80 should they be unable to work due to prolonged injury or illness.

The taxi operator, which controls about 60 per cent of the total taxi fleet here, is expected to shell out almost $1 million to provide its full-time drivers with prolonged medical leave insurance coverage.

Underwritten by Etiqa Insurance, the policy will also provide a cash payout of $1,000, paid out once a year, to full-time drivers who test positive for Covid-19 through a polymerase chain reaction test conducted by a registered medical practitioner, specialist or hospital in Singapore.

Similar policies have been in place for regular Grab and Gojek drivers for years now.

The two ride-hailing firms introduced prolonged medical leave insurance schemes in early 2019, on the back of recommendations made by a tripartite work group on self-employed persons that the Government accepted the year before.

In a statement, Mr Jackson Chia, chief executive of ComfortDelGro Taxi and ComfortDelGro's Private Mobility Group, said the firm's new insurance policy aims to address concerns among cabbies and drivers about the loss of income should they fall ill.

"With an uptick in Covid-19 cases due to new Omicron sub-variants, the $1,000 Covid-19 payout will hopefully help cover our drivers' operational costs should they contract it due to the nature of their job," Mr Chia added.

In its statement, the firm noted that eligible drivers would be automatically covered by the new scheme, which also comes with a home insurance plan at no extra cost.

Responding to queries, ComfortDelGro’s group chief branding and communications officer Tammy Tan said the firm had planned to introduce the scheme in 2020, but Covid-19 caused it to shift focus to more basic concerns, such as helping drivers get jobs and improving their income.

ComfortDelGro said active full-time taxi hirers, as well as private-hire car drivers who rent their vehicles from the firm and complete at least four bookings a day for at least six days a week, will qualify for the free insurance coverage.

More than 10,000 part-time and relief drivers who are not eligible for the free coverage can buy the policy online for a special rate of $125 a year.

The policy covers medical leave and hospitalisation leave only from the eighth day onward. Depending on how long drivers have worked for the company, the policy will cover up to a maximum of between 14 and 18 days of medical leave, and between 60 to 70 days of hospitalisation leave.

Accidents or injuries both at and outside of work are covered.

Cabbies who provide cross-border taxi services between Singapore and Johor Bahru are also covered if they fall ill or get injured in Malaysia, as long as their medical certificate is issued by a healthcare provider in Singapore.

There is a 30-day waiting period before these claims are payable - except in the case of accidents - and a waiting period of 14 days for the Covid-19 cash payout.

For Grab, its prolonged medical leave insurance plan has been free for active drivers since January 2019, with coverage ranging from $30 to $200 a day, depending on the driver's average daily earnings and how often they drive for the firm.

Grab's plan covers medical leave from the sixth day onward, up to a maximum of 14 days, and hospitalisation leave from the second day onward, to a maximum of 60 days.

Gojek drivers in the Pro and Elite tiers get free insurance that pays up to $80 a day, covering the same periods as Grab's plan. Gojek drivers in other tiers can buy the company's plan at subsidised rates starting from $25 a month.

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