DBA Insurance Market Will Grow
employee stationed on the island of Guam was spending the afternoon at an employer-owned recreational facility when he attempted to rescue two swimmers in a dangerous channel where swimming was forbidden.1 The employee’s death was found to be compensable under DBA through his “connection to employment,” i.e., the positional risk involved in deploying the worker to a country where circumstances resulted in his being present to undertake an ultimately tragic rescue attempt.
In a 1965 case, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed a decision that the drowning of a South Korean-based civilian employee who was boating on his day off 30 miles from his workplace was still compensable due to the positional risk inherent in his overseas posting.2 Had the employee not been stationed in South Korea as a prerequisite of employment, the circumstances leading up to his drowning would not have existed.
In another case that same year, an employee was killed in a vehicular accident outside a military base on San Salvador Island (a British posses- sion).3 The accident occurred as the employee and several others were returning from an evening out in a nearby town when their vehicle was driven on the wrong side of the road. The court held that the evening out represented“reasonable recreation” and thatthe driver’s errorinremember- ing what side of the road on which to drive in British territory constituted a zone of special danger.
Under traditional workers compensation, it is unlikely that a heart at- tack would be compensable. However, in a 1982 case, a claim involving an employee who suffered a heart attack while off-duty in a living facility provided by his employer in Greenland was found to be compensable.4 The occurrence of such a grave medical condition at such a remote location constituted the employee’s presence in a zone of special danger.
In one precedent, positional risk came into play in an unexpected way. A U.S. government contractor’s DBA-covered employee was being processed in New York City in preparation for assignment to a federally funded project in Africa. While commuting to temporary housing provided by his employer in New Jersey, the man slipped on a patch of ice, fell, and broke his leg. Admittedly, the incident occurred a long way from Africa (where slips and falls due to ice are usually rare). However, the court found for the claimant by virtue of the fact that the act of his commuting to his temporary, employer-provided housing was a consequence of his status as a DBA-covered employee.
Clearly, successfully underwriting, pricing, and servicing DBA business requires an insurer with a clear understanding of the claims dimensions for this highly specialized product. In reality, while the U.S. Department