22 Jan 2013

RSE deaths revive Tonga insurance debate

4:24 pm on 22 January 2013

A senior Tongan official says changing the insurance policy and having more health checks for those on New Zealand's Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme is going to cost workers more.

Tonga's Ministry of Internal Affairs, which is looking after the RSE scheme, says in the past six years two Tongans died while working abroad.

The latest death has sparked discussions with the insurance company over whether the worker died because of a pre-existing condition.

The company still paid for the body to be repatriated to Tonga.

The ministry's deputy chief executive, Meleoni Uera, says the policy needs to be revised, even if it results in higher premiums, and additional medical checks may become mandatory.

"It is an area that we will look at, but look at as well, in terms of again, (with) thorough discussion with different parties because cost will be involved in the whole process, and for a lot of this it will be the seasonal workers currently, they bear the cost of any additional checks."

Tonga's deputy CEO of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Meleoni Uera