Despite the final withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Iraq last December and the continued drawdown in Afghanistan, there remain tens of thousands of civilians, including Department of Defense contractors, stationed at overseas military bases. In addition, thousands more work for government-funded projects worldwide, specifically in Afghanistan, Iraq, Jordan, Ethiopia and throughout the region. Given this exposure, it is essential for brokers to help clients that contract with the government to fully understand the insurance requirements under the Defense Base Act.

When the Defense Base Act was first implemented in 1941, its main purpose was to provide insurance coverage to workers stationed at international military bases. However, amendments to the act over the years have made the Defense Base Act to require insurance not only for military personnel, but for any employee engaged in U.S. government-funded business overseas, including public works projects. 

What does this mean for brokers? Simply put, DBA insurance is mandatory for all companies that contract with the major federal agencies, including the Department of Defense, Department of State, and the Department of Energy in which these contractors may have personnel stationed overseas. However, it can require a great deal of work from a company’s human resources or risk management department to facilitate proper claims handling and care management programs for these unique employees. Brokers have the opportunity to educate their clients on an array of specialized services available to help maintain their employees’ physical and behavioral health during and after their assignments abroad. 

A comprehensive DBA program would offer the following services to insured’s to control claims cost and promptly assist injured employees:

  • Care Management – Continuous oversight of medical treatment by senior nurse reviewers
  • Rehabilitation Counseling – Help to minimize lost time from injuries and maximize employee recovery
  • Back to Work Programs – Worker on Loan Program to help employees get re-acclimated to a consistent work day and regain confidence in the workplace
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Management – Nurses and claims adjusters trained to deal with PTSD cases assist in employee recovery
  • Litigation Management – Consistent review of legal fees to help contain expenses

Since DBA coverage is a mandatory product for government contractors, DBA insurance provides an ideal opportunity for brokers to cross-sell with workers’ compensation, P&C or group benefits to this industry segment. The combined U.S. Federal Agencies awarded over $536 billion in 2011 in funding, and the Department of Defense alone contracted with over 76,000 primary contractors.
The DBA product itself is relatively easy to prospect and initiate with their clients – brokers simply need to validate the expiration date of a company’s current program and start providing quotes. Additionally, by combining with traditional health insurance and business travel accident reimbursement, brokers can offer DBA insurance to help their clients lower medical expenses and ultimately save money.

Today’s business world is global, and in order to keep up, brokers need to offer services and counsel desired by those companies who station employees abroad. Having international benefit experience is becoming more and more important in the overall diversification of a broker’s business model.   


Fleet is president of AmWINS Group Benefits, a wholesale broker of comprehensive group insurance programs and administrative services. He can be reached at



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