The makeover of Indian Railways has been in the making for a while now. The latest move by the government is to bundle travel insurance along with your train ticket—much like what the airlines do.
The Ministry of Railways announced optional travel insurance earlier this month, and it seems to have become popular as every second booking—of about 700,000 tickets booked online each day—is opting for the insurance, said Dipankar Acharya, country head, affinity and strategic relationships, Royal Sundaram General Insurance Co. Ltd. The government is implementing the scheme in partnership with ICICI Lombard General Insurance Co. Ltd, Royal Sundaram and Shriram General Insurance Co. Ltd.
The scheme is applicable only to online bookings, and will be on trial for 1 year. When asked if it will be extended to offline bookings as well, an Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corp. (IRCTC) spokesperson said: “Eventually it may happen. But for now, this insurance scheme has been started for a period of one year for online ticket buyers only.”
Here’s a look at the important working aspects of the insurance scheme.
WHAT IS ON OFFER?
“It is a group insurance policy given on an individual basis,” said Sanjay Datta, chief, underwriting and claims, ICICI Lombard General Insurance. A premium of 92 paise per passenger is charged while booking the ticket, if you opt for insurance. “This amount will remain the same irrespective of the duration and distance of the journey,” Datta said. The insurance is optional, but once opted, all passengers under one PNR (passenger name record) will be covered. The insurance option is currently available for online bookings or e-tickets. It excludes suburban trains. Also, children below 5 years of age are not covered.
While the option is currently available for bookings through the IRCTC ticketing portal, it will soon be made available for all the other online modes of booking tickets.
“We are currently working on the integration of the systems. Once it is complete, this facility will get extended to the railway ticket booking app users as well as to travel agents,” Acharya said.
WHAT IS AN ACCIDENT?
For the purposes of this scheme, accidents and victims are defined according to the sections 123, 124 and 124-A of the Railways Act, 1989.
An accident could be a collision between trains, of which at least one is a passenger train; or the derailment of a train; or other accident to a train or any part of a train carrying passengers. However, according to the section 124-A of the Act, compensation cannot be claimed if a passenger dies or suffers injury due to suicide or attempted suicide. Self-inflicted injuries, acts committed by passengers in a state of intoxication or insanity, natural death and injuries on account of “adventurous sports” are not covered. So, don’t expect a compensation if you lose a limb by falling from the roof of a train.
The insurance cover extends to acts of terrorism; violent attacks like robbery, dacoity and shoot-outs; and arson in a train carrying passengers. The coverage lasts for the actual time period of the journey, including arrival and departure.
WHAT DO YOU GET?
The insurance provides a cover of Rs10 lakh in case of death or permanent total disability. For permanent partial disability the cover is up to Rs7.5 lakh. For hospitalisation expenses, the cover is up to Rs2 lakh and Rs10,000 for transportation of mortal remains of a victim. Coverage of hospitalisation expenses is in addition to the coverage of disability and death.
Passengers who opt for the insurance will be able to make the claim in addition to the compensation that the government gives in case of an accident or untoward incident. “This insurance is over and above the ex-gratia compensation that is given to accident victims,” the IRCTC spokesperson said. According to the Railway Accidents and Untoward Incidents (Compensation) Amendment Rules, 1997, the government gives a compensation of Rs4 lakh in case of death and up to Rs4 lakh in case of injuries and permanent disabilities.
HOW TO FILE A CLAIM?
If you opt for insurance, you will need to update the nominee details on the insurance company’s website. The link to this website will be provided, along with policy number, though an SMS. If a passenger does not update these details, the claim will be settled with the legal heirs of the policyholder.
The claims will have to be filed within 4 months of the date of accident, along with a report from the railway authorities on the accident and the list of dead passengers, in case of a death claim.