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KARACHI: The importance of having health insurance for themselves as well as family back home became painfully obvious during the pandemic, said Toshita Chauhan, Business Head at Policybazaar, an insurance aggregator that recently teamed up with Pakistan’s Adamjee Insurance to make it easy for expats to get cover for dependents.

“The typical challenges that we see in the UAE for Pakistani expats is, you’ve come away from your home and you are bridging that gap with your family’s aspirations and dreams, you set a life for yourself in the UAE and a lot of us provide for our family back home,” Chauhan told Business Recorder.

“Not all of us are able to bring our dependents to this country. What we realised was that there was a huge demand for people who are buying insurance products here who also want to secure their family’s future back home, whether that’s parents, spouse or kids.”

“Post-Covid this became even more important because they realised that if ever a claim was to occur or some misfortune was to happen, it could make a huge dent in their pocket.”

Policybazaar has tied up with an insurer which is in the UAE and in Pakistan as well, and thus the deal with Adamjee came into being earlier this month.

Pakistan's Adamjee Insurance partners with Dubai-based Policybazaar

What Policybazaar is offering is “a UAE insurance product with the added benefit for Pakistani nationals that if they have family back home they want to add on to the plan, we will give them a free health insurance cover that can be used in Pakistan.”

This way they can “ensure family members back home are protected”.

“This sort of comes as a freebie for them,” added Chauhan.

What are costs involved?

When asked about the price of these products, Chauhan said: “On average in the UAE, a comprehensive health insurance plan with a sum insured of, let’s say, a million dirhams will range anywhere from about AED1,000 on average per person” for the year.

She said this is the average price which Pakistani nationals would pay in the UAE for an “enhanced plan”.

There are cheaper plans available in the UAE. A very basic plan in Dubai costs AED600. Chauhan explained that a visit to a general physician costs AED250 to AED300. “So two visits to the doctor in a year sort of covers you through what you’ve paid. “The government has done a great job in having that bare minimum cover for people,” said Chauhan.

5-year tourist, job exploration visas: UAE offers more options, eases requirements

The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) ensures anyone with a maximum salary of AED4,000 has access to a basic plan, for which insurers cannot charge above a certain amount.

“That is affordable for everyone and no one can refuse that cover to you,” said Chauhan.

However, with the basic plan, the network of hospitals and access to specialists is limited, she pointed out.

Why do expats need health insurance?

Firstly, medical facilities are not cheap in the UAE, says Chauhan.

For instance, in the case of pregnancy, Chauhan estimates a normal delivery would cost close to AED6,000 to AED7,000. If there is a complication or C-section involved, it can go up to AED15,000 to 20,000.

“It can be pretty expensive to just go to a doctor and do a consultation. The beauty of health insurance here is even your outpatient consultations are covered.”

Secondly, Dubai and Abu Dhabi make it mandatory to have health insurance. So when expats apply for their residence visa or want it renewed, they need to show proof they have medical cover.

In other Emirates, like Sharjah and Ajman, it’s not mandatory, but it might soon be on the cards.

Is it on the expat to get cover?

As per the Dubai Health Authority website, in Dubai, employers are required to provide health insurance coverage for their employees and sponsors are required to get insurance cover for their resident dependents.

“In both Dubai and Abu Dhabi, it is mandatory for the employer to provide health insurance cover if they are the sponsor of the expat’s visa. But if my kids are on my visa and I’m the sponsor, then I need to make sure that I buy insurance for them,” Chauhan explained.

Insurance for Golden Visa holders

Insurance companies are working towards tailored packages for Golden Visa holders. One company, Daman, has already launched an offering.

Chauhan explained that because a golden visa is for ten years, and holders of it are often world travelers living in more than one country, insurers are working towards making plans that do not have to be renewed annually and provide global coverage.

“Golden visas are great because you get a visa for ten years and you’re not required to be in the country every six months to maintain your residency status.”

However, “there isn’t any plan as of now that would cover you ten years straight up.”

Earlier this year, Saleh Al Hashimi, CEO, Dubai Health Insurance Corporation under the Dubai Health Authority, told Gulf News that ”a robust health insurance plan for Golden Visa holders ensures security and helps them plan their next five or 10 years in the UAE. It is a major pillar in their requirements to stay in the country.

“We are proud that Daman has taken the initiative to come up with a dedicated plan. We would like other companies to follow suit, even as we will push the market to work towards such offerings,” he added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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