Full steam ahead for rail travel insurance?
Rescue workers search for survivors at the site of Sunday's train derailment in Pukhrayan, south of Kanpur
After the Indore-Patna Express mishap, which claimed 145 lives, the railways ministry is examining a proposal to make passenger insurance mandatory.
Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has approached the government with the proposal. The passenger insurance scheme was introduced by the railways on September 1. An estimated 15-20 million had opted for the scheme in these 85 days. This compares to 3.2 mn log-ins a day on the website and up to 700,000 bookings a day. Sources say only about 30 per cent of all tickets booked online opt for travel cover, though the premium of 92 paise for a passenger is one of the lowest in the world.
Of the 695 passengers involved in the recent mishap, 410 tickets were booked through the IRCTC website; of these, 128 passengers or 31 per cent opted for travel insurance. "We are thinking about making this mandatory, so that more people benefit from the scheme. On the recent accident, we will ensure the money is distributed to insurance holders with relevant documents within a week,"said A K Manocha, chairman and managing director of IRCTC.
The three companies providing passenger insurance are Shriram General Insurance, ICICI Lombard and Royal Sundaram General Insurance. "Based on the final list of 48 given to our company, we found two lost their lives and two got injured; eight are not traceable. We are getting in touch with all those people," said Dipankar Acharya, country head, affinity and strategic relationships, Royal Sundaram.
Adding: "It is a learning curve for the companies and the passengers. I hope, with time, the number of customers will increase."
Royal Sundaram has also given a proposal through which travellers can get a cover for their baggage, electronic items and other valuables. The scheme would cover robbery and dacoity.
In the current scheme, in the case of death or permanent disability of a traveller, Rs 10 lakh is provided. For permanent partial disability, the coverage extends to Rs 7.5 lakh; for hospital expenses, up to Rs 2 lakh. In addition, Rs 10,000 for transportation of mortal remains.