Visitor health insurance cover a windfall for insurance firms

Resident individual sponsors of relatives and friends visiting the UAE are required to purchase health insurance as part of the visit visa for each visiting individual. This is done to ensure that if any medical emergency takes place, there is sufficient cover to provide for medical care.

However, not often is this cover claimed – resulting in such purchases becoming another revenue stream for insurance firms.

S Kumar and his family were relaxed when they were presented the bill of a hospital visit for his ailing mother-in-law. Secured with a health insurance coverage that came with her tourist visa, the Dh6,500 bill would be only a matter of time before it would be repaid by the insurance firm.

But not so.

“My mother was on holiday in Al Ain, where we live. When she started having stomach problems, we decided to have it checked at the hospital, thinking that the visit would be covered,” tells S Kumar. “She is 80-years old and at that age every little ailment is an emergency. The man with the scythe is just looking for an excuse. She had to have scans and the bill came to Dh6,500. I did not expect to pay such an amount as my own insurance pays for my hospital visit upfront. But then, I was told I could ‘try’ and claim it from the Visit Visa insurance cover,” said Kumar.

“However, I was flatly told by the hospital staff that it would be almost impossible to get a refund. I tried, they were very nice over the phone, but I still have not got anything back,” he added.

Visitors who apply for a visa under sponsorship are required by law to purchase a health insurance. However, these health insurance packages cover emergency cases only, and for any other treatment travel insurance is recommended, or the visitor is left with the unexpected holiday expense.

Commenting on the overall scenario of visitor health cover in the UAE, leading insurer, Daman, explained that, generally speaking, claims are not that frequent but are usually very expensive.

“Daman offers health insurance plans for 40, 70, 100 and 190 days; those cost Dh40, Dh70, Dh90 and Dh180 respectively,” explained Dr. Sven Rohte, Chief Commercial Officer at Daman.

In 2011 alone, Daman provided 65,500 visitors to Abu Dhabi with a healthcare package.

However, emergencies are not as frequent as other cases, and by consequence not many of the 65,500 members Daman insured last year may have had to use the card, said Dr Rohte.

“I actually think insurance firms are making a good buck out of this,” says Kumar. “The health insurance package is mandatory with the visa application, but the number of cases in which it is used is very limited.”

Apart from Abu Dhabi, the emirate of Dubai implemented similar requirements for visitors to the emirate in 2008. In other emirates health insurance for visitors to the UAE is advised. 

UAE launches e-visa system for visitors

The UAE has launched an electronic visa facility in Spain to facilitate the issuing process.

UAE Ambassador to Spain Dr Hasa Abdullah Al Otaiba launched the new electronic visa service for the issuance of entry visas to the UAE.

The new system enjoys accurate specifications and meets the requirements of high security.

The new service was launched at the consular section in the presence of Khalifa Al Mazrouei, an official in charge of the consular affairs at the Embassy and other consular officials.

The UAE ambassador said the service is in line with the directives of the leadership to upgrade work procedures in different institutions.

She thanked all the officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who contributed to this excellent project.




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