Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Insurers gear up to cover officials on poll duty

Shilpy Sinha / Mumbai March 23, 2009, 0:25 IST

As the general election process starts this week with filing of nomination papers for the first phase, state governments are getting their act together to kick off floating tenders for providing insurance cover to six million officials and paramilitary personnel who would be deployed for on poll duty.

While the standard cover against death is expected to be worth Rs 10 lakh, partial disability insurance is likely to be in the region of Rs 5 lakh. But there are states where state government personnel on election duty are likely to get higher cover. While the premium quoted is expected to stay around the same level for all, a higher risk perception due to terror is something bothering insurance firms.

"Depending on the volatility and risk perception, the (premium) rates will vary. However, it will remain more or less the same," said Oriental Insurance Chairman and Managing Director M Ramadoss.

Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand and parts of Bihar and Maharashtra, which have been the epicentre of Naxalite attacks, are expected to opt for higher cover, insurance company executives said.

Besides, the number of days for which the cover would be available would also determine the premium rate. States are expected to provide insurance for a 30-40 day period.

Though insurance cover for poll duty started a few years ago, the Election Commission (EC) has raised concerns over the delay in settling claims.

Almost all insurers are eyeing this business, which had fetched them a hefty Rs 15 crore premium income during the 2004 general elections. While the four public sector insurers — New India Assurance, United India, National and Oriental Insurance — have been providing such cover, some private players too participated in certain states during the last general elections. By purchasing group personal accident covers, states manage to keep the premium low.

"In 2004, there were certain states that did not purchase insurance covers. But now, with terror risks rising, almost all of them are expected to buy such policies this time," said a senior executive with a private sector insurance company.

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