My uncle is an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) in the Middle East. Before finishing his contract, he died in a work-related accident. Right now, my aunt is processing her claim against my uncle’s foreign employer through the local recruitment agency, and so far, they have been very cooperative. I want to ask, though, if there are other benefits that my aunt may claim aside from her claim against my uncle’s foreign employer?
With the interest of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their family in mind, and given the nature of overseas employment, our State made it sure to provide adequate and comprehensive protection to our OFWs, including the contingency of death. At present, the death of an overseas Filipino worker while working abroad could trigger several claims to accrue in favor of his family or beneficiaries. These claims are not limited to those which the concerned OFW’s foreign employer may be held directly and principally liable for by virtue of the employment contract. Other claims may arise from insurance contract and membership with government entities.
Under existing laws, recruitment agencies are required to get compulsory insurance coverage for OFWs they deploy which covers, among others accidental death coverage amounting to Fifteen Thousand United States dollars (US$15,000.00) payable to the beneficiaries of the OFW (Sec. 37-A, Republic Act 8042 as amended by Republic Act 10022). Such insurance policy is effective for the duration of the overseas worker’s employment. In order to claim on the insurance policy, the beneficiary must present a written notice of claim to the insurance company concerned and submit pertinent supporting documents, such as death certificate, police or accident report and/or medical certificate, duly authenticated by the Philippine foreign post concerned. (Ibid.)
In addition, the family left by an OFW who died while working abroad may also file a claim with the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA). The OWWA is an attached agency of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) that focuses on protecting and promoting the welfare of OFWs and their families. Membership in OWWA is obtained either by enrolment upon processing of the overseas employment contract, or by voluntary registration (Art. IV, Sec. 1, Omnibus Policies, OWWA Board Resolution 038, S. 2003). Members are entitled to, among others, life insurance coverage amounting to P100,000.00 for natural death and P200,000.00 for accidental death and burial benefit amounting to P20,000.00 for the duration of his contract. (Art. VIII, Secs. 2 & 3, Id.)
Considering that your uncle has a local recruitment agency, it is likely that he is covered by the legally mandated compulsory insurance coverage for OFWs. It is also likely that he enrolled with OWWA upon processing of his overseas contract. Considering further that he died in a work-related accident and while his contract is still in effect, we highly advise your aunt to look into these possible claims.
Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.
We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org