Separate Fact from Fiction: 10 DBA Insurance Myths to Debunk
When researching DBA insurance, deciphering what’s true and what isn’t can be difficult. Plus, with the continuing changes in legislation, navigating the confusion and bad advice you find can make obtaining your contractual insurance requirements even more daunting.
Government contractors must obtain Defense Base Act (DBA) insurance, so choosing coverage that fits their needs and is compliant with the US Department of Labor’s (DOL) standards is crucial.
Federal law requires all U.S. government contractors and subcontractors to secure workers' compensation insurance for their employees working overseas. (Source: DOL)
To help you find the correct information you need, we’ve picked out some of the most common misconceptions contractors have about DBA coverage and provide you with clear and accurate answers.
Here are the Most Common DBA Misconceptions We Hear
Myth 1: DBA Can Cover Health and Sickness Matters
DBA does not cover illnesses and other health-related matters. Your employees would receive coverage for these things under their standard health insurance. At the same time, there are some exceptions. For example, if you were to get sick from endemic, region-specific illnesses like malaria, Ebola or Denga fever, those would all be covered under DBA.
So, what does DBA cover? Learn more in our article that discusses what DBA covers for US government contractors.
Myth 2: DBA Can Cover All of Your Salary
Your salary is not 100% reimbursable. Even if the coverage is for permanent total disability, there are certain limits. You can only get up to 66 2/3rds of your weekly salary up to a maximum of about $1,727 a week. The maximum payout set by the US Department of Labor changes every year. If your salary is more than $134,607 annually, there’s a chance you won’t get the full weekly payout because of that maximum weekly benefit.
Kevin Pedone, a Commercial Insurance Advisor and DBA expert at Clements Worldwide says:
If a government contractor is getting paid $200,000 a year, they may think that because they have DBA insurance, they don’t need to have any type of salary replacement coverage. However, if they make more than the maximum replacement benefit, they might get capped.
Myth 3: DBA Only Provides 24/7 Coverage in War Zones
While DBA typically only covers injuries and deaths that occur on the job, the Zone of Special Danger can extend DBA coverage if contractors are performing work in a hazardous environment. Some people think that hazardous environments only include war zones. However, that’s not always the case.
It’s not just war-torn countries where you can qualify for the zone of special danger, it’s also broadened for other measures,” says Pedone. “For example, a remote location where there isn’t any medical care or other services nearby may qualify extended coverage under the Zone of Special Danger.
Myth 4: Coverage Is Not Necessary for Local Nationals
Everyone working under a government contract must have DBA insurance. It doesn’t matter if you’re a local national or not.
Being uninsured or not having approved insurance is NOT an option,” says Vito Gaeta, US Head of Commercial Insurance at Clements Worldwide. “If you do not obtain DBA coverage for employees and do not have an approved waiver you could face hefty fines, litigation and/or criminal prosecution.
You can get a waiver from the DOL, but this is typically for specific circumstances. Here, you can find a list of country-specific waivers from the DOL if you need them.
Myth 5: All DBA Claims Come with a Statute of Limitations
There is no statute of limitations for receiving benefits from a DBA insurance claim. Employees should notify their employer as soon as possible and, in most cases, within the first 12 months of the incident. Once your employee informs you about an incident, you, as the employer, have 10 days to file an LS-202 with the DOL.
However, that doesn’t mean your employees should file a claim whenever they choose. For instance, if one of your employees breaks their leg on the job, they should file a claim as soon as they return from the hospital. In instances like these, injured employees should file a claim within the standard 12-month notification period and you, as the employer, should be able to file the paperwork within the 10-day reporting period.
To avoid miscommunications about filing claims late, make sure your employees understand their rights and are knowledgeable about work-incident reporting procedures,” says Matt Tuman, a Commercial Insurance Advisor at Clements who specializes in DBA.
There are exceptions to the notification rule and timeline, like PTSD claims and work-related injuries/illnesses that occurred in the past. For example, if your employees were exposed to a toxic chemical on a government contract assignment a decade ago and current medical research shows a link between the toxic chemical and a debilitating illness, situations like these don’t typically have a statute of limitations.
Myth 6: You Don’t Need Life Insurance Because DBA Provides Death Benefits
If your employee gets killed on the job, DBA can act as an accidental death policy. However, death due to sickness is not covered by DBA insurance. That’s why having life insurance is critical and employers look to provide group life insurance for their employees. If the deceased employee is single, their parents or next of kin do not get death benefits. DBA only provides death benefits to those who have spouses or dependents.
When an employee dies while working overseas, it is heartbreaking for their families. The last thing they want to worry about is how they’re going to pay their bills or continue to provide for the family,” says Pedone. “However, if the employee dies off the job, it’s important to have supplemental insurance in case they are not covered by DBA insurance.
Myth 7: There is No Minimum Cost for DBA Coverage
DBA insurance has minimum costs that can range dramatically based on the exposures. But for standard risks you can see the lowest cost range from $5,000 to $10,000, even if your employees are only on contract for one day. If you’re performing work overseas, who you use could be the difference between having coverage that fully protects you and coverage that only provides the bare minimum.
Myth 8: You Can get Reimbursed for Unused DBA Premiums
DBA coverage amounts are a minimum and a deposit premium, meaning you don’t get a premium reimbursement.
DBA policies can have different minimum cost limits. However, there is no return premium under your minimum cost. In some cases, the employer can get refunded on their unused DBA premiums after an audit has occurred. This would only occur if your the annual premium was higher than the minimum premium and the audit showed there was unused premium in excess of the minimum premium amount. We understand this can be confusing. So, if you have any questions reach out to our commercial insurance experts who will be happy to help explain how it all works.
Myth 9: The Government Pays Out All Claims
Most claims are paid out by the insurance company. However, there are some instances where the US Government will reimburse your insurance carrier for paid claims when your employees get injured, like injuries due to war, war-like actions, terrorism or PTSD.
Myth 10: DBA Doesn’t Cover Off the Job Injuries
DBA can cover injuries that occur off the job in certain cases. For example, under the Special Dangers Doctrine, DBA can cover off the job injuries for government contractors stationed in warzones or living in hazardous conditions.
Knowledge is Power When it Comes to DBA
Arming yourself and your employees with accurate information about DBA insurance is crucial. When you know what to look for, what’s covered and how much it costs, you can begin your government contract with peace of mind.
Learn More About DBA:
- DBA Insurance - Learn about the types of coverage, who is covered, limitations, and what else to think about to protect yourself.
- Why You Should Get a DBA Quote Before Bidding on a Government Contract - Did you know that many government agencies allow DBA to be a direct line on your proposal so you DO NOT need to pay it out of your overhead?
- What Does the Defense Base Act Cover for US Government Contractors?
- How DBA Insurance Works - What it is, how the market works, and how do you get the best quote?
- Types of International Insurance for Your Employees Working Abroad - Learn about how to select insurance depending on the type of work employees will be doing and where they are going.
Get the right answers from our commercial insurance team who handle hundreds of policies a year. They can help you obtain better quotes and understand what your coverage includes.
Clements Worldwide has been helping government contractors get the coverage they need since 1947 and continue to provide insurance for global contractors located all over the world.