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Why is Insurance Mandatory for ECR Passport Holders?

  • Author :
  • TATA AIG Team
  • Published on :
  • 06/02/2023

According to a move mooted by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), insurance is made mandatory for all individuals with the ECR category in passports. Starting from August 1, this rule has been put forward under the Pravasi Bhartiya Bima Yojna 2017. However, to understand the need for such a move and what it would mean for individuals holding an ECR passport, it is important to know what is emigration check required or ECR.

What is Emigration Check Required?

If you are wondering what is ECR category, it is essentially the requirement to get an emigration clearance from the “Protector of Emigrants.” This rule comes under the Emigration Act of 1983 and regulates the emigration of skilled, semi-skilled, and unskilled workers, including professionals such as nurses who seek employment overseas in 18 specified countries.

To check if you own an ECR passport in India, you can check for the “Emigration Check Required” stamp on your passport. For non-ECR passports, there is no such stamp mandated. The ECR page in passports in the new booklet is in the same place where information about the father or the legal guardian is printed – which is the last page of the passport. On this page, if there is no mention of an emigration check required in the passport, then the individual can safely assume that they own a non-ECR passport (previously ECNR).

The idea behind the ECR passport in India is to enable freedom of work while safeguarding the interests of individuals seeking employment in specific countries. The ECR passport is for individuals who have not cleared 10th grade or those who have no certificates to validate the same.

Which Countries Need the Emigration Check for the ECR Passport Holders?

The Emigration Act prohibits travelling to specific listed ECR countries for the purpose of seeking employment if an individual with an ECR category in passport has not received the emigration clearance from the Protector of Emigrants. In simple terms, if an individual with an emigration check required in passport does not have the clearance, they will not be permitted to travel to ECR countries when they go through the immigration checkpoint at Indian airports.

Here is a list of countries that require emigration clearance if you have the ECR page in passport: Lebanon, Libya, Bahrain, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Iraq, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Jordan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Qatar, Oman, South Sudan, Sudan, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Syria, Yemen, and Thailand.

Why is Insurance Mandatory for ECR Passport Holders?

Every organised traveller likes to maintain a checklist of all travel essentials to ensure nothing important gets left behind. After the onslaught of the infamous pandemic, a few additions have to be incorporated into every checklist to ensure a safe and healthy trip. However, when you pack that sanitizer and disinfectant wipes, it is important to take a second to check whether your trip is also secured against unpredictable circumstances. And that is why you need travel insurance.

For ECR passport holders, this check goes a step further for healthcare purposes as the MEA mandates holding an insurance cover for a minimum of two or three years. The minimum protection of the cover is ruled at ₹10 lakhs to cover for accidental death or permanent disability causing the loss of employment while working overseas. The insurance cover remains valid despite changing employers or even the location of the insured member during the policy term. The insurance coverage continues to secure the person even when they travel to India or a different country.

As many as 70% of the blue-collar workers who seek employment abroad (particularly in the Gulf Corporation Countries) will benefit from this scheme. As many as six lakh Indian workers holding ECR passports go overseas each year to work as skilled, semi-skilled, and unskilled workers providing their services in the domains such as construction, sanitation, industrial, as well as under domestic and agricultural sectors.

The Central Government’s ruling to mandatorily have insurance for individuals holding an ECR passport will be particularly instrumental for Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Telangana, and Tamil Nadu. These states contribute a significant chunk of the blue-collar workforce for employment abroad. The mandate can prove to be a good financial safety net for such workers if things go wrong.

The Importance of Insurance When Travelling

Insurance acts as a financial cover in times of trial – taking away at least a part of the worry when individuals travel abroad. And since you can never be too safe (especially when you are travelling outside of your home country), it is important to invest in both medical as well as travel insurance.

Typically, travel insurance covers the insurance holder against the following scenarios:

  • A travel insurance plan will cover the financial burden of delays in the journey owing to sickness or unforeseeable circumstances.
  • International travel insurance will provide a protective financial cover against medical emergencies and if the policyholder falls sick while travelling.
  • Knowing the importance of a passport, a travel insurance plan will also cover you against the loss or theft of the document. You can also look for a travel insurance plan that will help you make arrangements for a temporary passport.
  • International travel insurance also covers the loss or misplacement of check-in baggage.
  • Individuals can even make a travel insurance claim to cover for expenses of emergency evacuation in case of natural calamities or terrorist activities.

Just to add, Tata AIG offers a host of travel insurance plans. So, in case you have an ECR passport in India, you can check out our international travel insurance plans. If you are a non-ECR passport holder, you can have insurance from Tata AIG as well. It is convenient to buy and easy to claim if you ever need to.

To Conclude

In addition to medical cover, it is important also to have international travel insurance to protect oneself and one’s family members against unforeseeable scenarios when travelling abroad. It offers you peace of mind by taking away your stress of having to worry about the expenses incurred in the event of unfortunate events. However, before investing in any insurance policy, it is essential to analyse personal insurance needs and then compare different policies to prevent any unpleasant surprises.

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