NGOs provide critical support for regions in crisis. Three types of coverage provide critical protection for NGO employees.

Author: Joan Rupar


As the world continues trying to manage the vast impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, tragedies continue escalating around the globe — and the non-governmental organization (NGO) community is called upon to do essential work that requires commitment and expertise. In communities struck by natural disaster, regions lacking food or clean water, countries with displaced families and certainly in Ukraine, NGOs are called upon to provide assistance and relief.

As an NGO employer, it's important to understand your responsibility to employees at risk of injury, kidnapping or even death, and to know what insurance resources you have to protect them.

Foreign Voluntary Workers Compensation (FVWC)

NGO employees are entitled to coverage through Foreign Voluntary Workers Compensation (FVWC). While anyone can experience a debilitating injury at any time, NGO employees often work in very stressed or dangerous locations where injury is more likely. Injuries can sometimes be addressed with an Accident and Health policy, but if the injury requires extended treatment or long-term disability coverage, the employee is legally entitled to those benefits through FVWC.

FVWC is broadly available in the market and provides employees with wage replacement, funds for medical treatment and rehabilitation, and even home alteration when appropriate.

Defense Base Act Workers Compensation

NGOs sometimes seek opportunities outside the U.S. from federally funded agencies and organizations such as USAID, the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Justice, the Centers for Disease Control, and others. Coverage through the Defense Base Act (DBA) is required for employees performing work outside the U.S. that's funded by any branch of the federal government. This coverage is required for prime contractors, subcontractors and sub subcontractors, regardless of nationality of the employee, for all work to be performed outside of the continental U.S.

It's anticipated that, as the Russia-Ukraine conflict continues, we will see a surge in awards for healthcare support, refugee support to reconnect families, and later reconstruction efforts across the spectrum — from rebuilding, reconnecting communities, restoring medical facilities and providing societal support and future mental wellness support.

Employees supporting these efforts must covered by DBA anywhere outside the U.S. for work funded by a U.S. government contract. The benefits are required by federal law and are unmatched in the standard workers compensation insurance market.

Kidnap, Ransom and Extortion and Crisis Solutions

Kidnap, Ransom and Extortion (KR&E) insurance (also called Special Crime insurance) and Crisis Solutions insurance are readily available in the marketplace and are incredibly valuable.

NGO employees are considered a high-risk group for kidnapping and similar threats. KR&E and Crises Solutions insurance provide coverage for several risks as well as access to highly qualified consultants who are well acquainted with the perpetrators. These consultants provide essential assistance in navigating horrible events — like when a site manager is kidnapped while trying to protect equipment or a school is terrorized for educating girls.

These international coverages are essential to provide your employees with the coverage they are entitled to receive, for ongoing contracting compliance and to give your country staff the resources to manage any crisis that may occur. These products are readily available to NGOs in the insurance market.

NGOs are vital to global recovery, and that recovery can only come when the employees who live out your noble mission have the critical resources to enable them to make that impact.

Author Information


The information contained herein is offered as insurance Industry guidance and provided as an overview of current market risks and available coverages and is intended for discussion purposes only. This publication is not intended to offer legal advice or client-specific risk management advice. Any description of insurance coverages is not meant to interpret specific coverages that your company may already have in place or that may be generally available. General insurance descriptions contained herein do not include complete Insurance policy definitions, terms, and/or conditions, and should not be relied on for coverage interpretation. Actual insurance policies must always be consulted for full coverage details and analysis.

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