When deployed overseas to war-torn or unstable locales around the world, living conditions for employees can be quite dangerous. They must be precautious, whether on or off base, working or not. Because of the volatile and remote locations in which many overseas U.S. Government contractors work, the Department of Labor chose to include two addendums to the Defense Base Act in order to broaden eligibility under DBA Insurance benefits.
Zone of Special Danger
The Zone of Special Danger doctrine broadens DBA Insurance benefit eligibility by making more types of claims compensable when an employee is confined to a “zone of special danger” (i.e. on military bases in Iraq or Afghanistan). Because of the doctrine, injuries stemming from activities normally not considered as part of the workday are given consideration under DBA because of the contained living environment.
While the scope of benefits may be expanded by the Zone of Special Danger doctrine, it does not mean that employees are covered 24-hours a day, regardless of the activities they engage in. Claims arising from activity that is completely disconnected from an employee’s employment are not compensable, in most cases.
The Reasonable Recreation doctrine allows consideration of compensation for claims arising from recreational activities for employees stationed in very remote or confined locations. Coverage is based on the premise that employees who are confined to such areas (i.e. Naval Bases on Marshall Islands or Guantanamo Bay) will engage in the limited recreational activities available to them. Injuries that are sustained as a result of these recreational activities may be considered for compensation.
The following claim examples illustrate how these doctrines affect eligibility for DBA benefits:
Example of compensable claim: An employee stationed at Guantanamo Bay was bitten by shark in the waters while swimming as a recreational activity. DBA benefits were payable under the Reasonable Recreation doctrine.
Example of claim NOT covered: A claim was filed by an employee stating he suffered psychological harm from the use of chemical peels during his employment in Kuwait. The employee was awarded benefits under the Zone of Special Danger doctrine. However, the DBA Insurance carrier later appealed the decision through the Benefits Review Board, resulting in an overturning of the benefits award on the grounds that the chemical peel treatment was personal in nature and not related to the employee’s employment.
As the DBA Insurance broker for Allied World Assurance, the LATITUDE DBA Insurance team has a deep understanding of the nuances of Defense Base Act coverage. We’re here to assist contractors in creating an insurance plan that protects both their business and its employees against all overseas exposures. Contact LATITUDE DBA Insurance today!