Lucky Plaza accident: Maids in accident will be covered by insurance

Flowers left at the accident scene along pavement of nutmeg road on Dec 30, 2019. Employers are required by law to buy personal accident insurance as well as medical insurance for their domestic workers.
Flowers left at the accident scene along pavement of nutmeg road on Dec 30, 2019. Employers are required by law to buy personal accident insurance as well as medical insurance for their domestic workers.ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

Although the Lucky Plaza accident on Sunday involving six maids happened on their day off, they will still be covered by the mandatory insurance bought for them.

Employers are required by law to buy personal accident insurance as well as medical insurance for their domestic workers.

Personal accident insurance is to help the maids and their families cope with a loss of income if they were to be permanently disabled or die because of an accident. The minimum cover is $60,000.

The Ministry of Manpower's website said the reason for the rule is that maids are excluded from the Work Injury Compensation Act, which covers most other workers for workplace injuries.

Medical insurance cover, on the other hand, must be at least $15,000 per year, and is for medical bills, as employers have to foot the cost of immediate inpatient and outpatient care of their maids.

Centre for Domestic Employees (CDE) chairman Yeo Guat Kwang said yesterday that his team will help the six victims or their families file claims under their personal accident insurance.

The CDE said in a Facebook post that the insurance payout depends on the outcome of investigations.

Meanwhile, it has launched a fund raiser for the injured maids and beneficiaries of the two dead women, at http://bit.ly/352gE7K

As of press time, the CDE had raised more than $20,000.

Other migrant worker advocacy groups have also offered help.

The Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics is collecting donations for the maids and their families, and can be contacted on 9787-3122 or via Facebook.

 
 

Case manager Jaya Anil Kumar suggested that the law provide for a higher insurance payout in the instance of maids' deaths because the families are suddenly left without support as the maids are usually the main or sole breadwinners.

Maid agents said few employers buy more than the minimum insurance cover required as that would add to the premium costs.

Ms K. Jayaprema, president of the Association of Employment Agencies (Singapore), said employers typically pay about $350 to $450 for two years, which includes coverage for a compulsory security bond as well as both types of insurance.

Healthcare cost for foreign maids is high as they are not eligible for government subsidies. At Tan Tock Seng Hospital, where the injured maids were taken, the daily room charge for a stay in the intensive care unit costs $980 for foreigners, according to the hospital's website.

Maid employer Irene Chia, 42, said some employers worry they have to forgo the premiums paid should their maids leave before their contracts end. She pays about $40 more now after the minimum personal accident insurance cover was raised in 2017, from $40,000 to $60,000.

"The premium is not a lot now but if we were to increase the minimum coverage, would the majority of families in Singapore still be able to afford it?" she asked.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 31, 2019, with the headline 'Maids in accident will be covered by insurance'. Subscribe