A construction worker at construction site

The Defense Base Act is a federal law that protects employees working overseas. But who does it cover, and why is this information important to you? Understanding your rights as an employee and understanding why you need Defense Base Act insurance coverage as an employer can benefit you in the long run.

What is the Defense Base Act?

The Defense Base Act (DBA) is a federal law enacted to provide employees, who are working in foreign countries for the U.S. government, workers’ compensation. It also covers non-military workers under contract with the U.S. government for “public works or national defense.”

What is Defense Base Act Insurance?

Any federal contractors that employ workers on foreign public work contracts or on military bases could be subject to the Defense Base Act. The DBA requires employers, contractors, and subcontractors to have insurance against on-the-job injuries with workers’ compensation insurance that meets the DBA requirements.

Who does the Defense Base Act Cover?

The Defense Base Act covers employees who are working:

  • On contracts approved and funded under the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act;
  • For American employers providing welfare outside the U.S. for the benefit of the Armed Services;
  • For private employers on a U.S. military base or land outside the United States, including in U.S. territories and;
  • On public work contracts for a U.S. government agency

Do Subcontractors Need to Have Their Own DBA Insurance, or Are They Covered by Their Contractor’s Insurance?

The Defense Base Act coverage doesn’t apply to contractors or subcontractors. Each employer must have their own DBA insurance. So, it is important to verify that contractors and subcontractors are covered by an active DBA insurance plan.

What Kind of Benefits Does the DBA Offer?

Close-up Of A Businessperson With Broken Arm Filling Health Insurance Claim Form On Wooden DeskFor employees who are covered and injured on the job, the Defense Base Act provides benefits for disability and medical expenses. Workers are even covered if the accident occurs during the time of employment; it doesn’t need to be during work hours.

In the event of a fatal injury during employment or as a result of employment, the DBA provides death benefits to the survivors of the covered employee. Death benefits under the DBA are usually equal to two-thirds of the employee’s average weekly earnings.

Are There Exceptions to DBA Coverage?

Yes, the Defense Base Act does not apply to:
  • Employees covered by the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act;
  • Employees engaged in casual employment not in the usual course of trade and;
  • Masters or crewmembers of any vessel

Who Needs DBA Insurance?

Any employer, contractor, or subcontractor with non-military employees overseas is required to have Defense Base Act insurance.

Need help becoming DBA insured?

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