Disappointed. From left, Euland Medonca, Santa Fonseka, Kriti Soni and Heena Nihalchandani Image Credit: Sharmila Dhal/XPRESS

Dubai: A group of employees, terminated by a Dubai-based communications company, is crying foul after its insurance claims following “involuntary” job loss are rejected.

The employees, who worked in the fields of advertising and public relations, said they were made redundant between November 2016 and February 2017.

Turned away

They said they had purchased a savings plan that included insurance for involuntary job loss through a reputed insurer well before they were terminated and had completed the minimum 90 days on the plan as required.

But they alleged that barring one of them, who received a part of the claim, the rest were turned away.

They said the contract stipulated that it would pay them the last salary, for three or six months (depending on the plan) in the event that they were made redundant.

Santa Fonseka, one of those affected, said she had purchased the policy in June 2016 and lost her job last November.

She said, “As per the terms and conditions, we were eligible to claim the insurance upon involuntary loss of jobs, after paying monthly premiums and being on the plan for a minimum period of 90 days.

"Our plan ensured that we would receive a cheque on the 15th of every month for a period of six months if we were made redundant.”

Two instalments

She said, “As I was the first to submit a claim, the insurance company approved my entire claim and even paid me two instalments.

“However when they received more claims from employees of the same company, they abruptly stopped my monthly payments. They rejected each one of the claims, saying that we were aware of our impending redundancy at the time of signing the contract with them and/or that we were working on a project basis and that during a downturn in market conditions, it was normal to be made redundant.”

Euland Mendonca, who took the policy on September 1, 2016 and lost her job on January 5 this year, said, “None of us in the company knew about the redundancy earlier as there was no prior information on this from the management or HR.

“Also, we faced no threat to our jobs as the company was over 40 years old and many of us were long-standing employees. I myself have put in more than 16 years of service in the company, while there are some who have been around for over 20 years.”

Kruti Soni, who suffered the same fate after serving the company for 10 years, echoed her words. “In fact, I had to go back to India as my employment visa expired and have now come specially back on a visit visa in the hope of getting the money,” she said.

‘No clue’

Heena Nihalchandani, who also purchased the plan on September 1, 2016 but lost her job on January 5 this year, said she received a letter from the insurance company saying that her claim was inadmissible as she had an impending knowledge of her termination when she took the plan.

Exclusion clause

“That is certainly not true as we had no clue about the company’s downsizing back in September.”

She said: “When I lodged a complaint, I was informed that like Euland (Mendonca), I was terminated within 126 days from the commencement date of the plan, which was an additional 36 days and too close in time to the required 90 days mentioned in the plan.

“In effect, an exclusion clause was applied to us and we were told we might have anticipated our termination based on earlier redundancies. But how could we have possibly foreseen something like this in a group that has thousands of employees?”

Fonseka said the women had approached the Insurance Authority and the Consumer Rights Protection Department.

“Our point is why do we have to fight for something that we were assured?” she asked. The women, unemployed since December 2016, claimed they were banking on the job loss insurance to provide for their families until they were are able to find new employment.

“But we are in a dire financial situation and many of us have resorted to selling personal possessions, including jewellery, furniture, electronics etc. We have children that go to school here in the UAE and we have been paying school fees and managing their other expenses through credit cards which we fear will soon max out as we are unable to pay back more than the minimum amount,” said Fonseka.

Insurer’s response

To an XPRESS query on the cases, the insurance company said: “The persons named in your email have registered complaints with the Insurance Authority (IA) in relation to the non-admissibility of their respective claims under the policy.

"IA had enquired with us and upon our submission of all facts to IA, they have indeed accepted our position within the terms of the policy and, accordingly, they have confirmed to us that the subject matter of all the complaints has been resolved.

"This is a clear indication from IA that these complaints have no merits. In view of the above, you will agree with us that the question of publishing baseless and unsupported allegations does not arise ...”