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Kerala plane tragedy: Global reinsurers to shell out over 90% of crashed Air India Express plane claim

Air India Express’s aircraft is reinsured for around Rs 375 crore and Air India will recover this amount from reinsurers as the plane has been totally damaged.

Written by George Mathew , Sandeep Singh | Mumbai, New Delhi | Updated: August 10, 2020 7:21:06 am
kerala air crash, kerala plane crashlanding, kozhikode airport plane skid off, kerala tabletop airport Air India, which has 170 aircraft, has taken an insurance policy that includes aircraft or hull and liability for third party and passengers. (PTI Photo)

Global reinsurers will have to shell out over 90 per cent of the insured value of the Air India Express plane that was destroyed in the accident at the Kozhikode airport, with the public sector Indian insurance consortium led by New India Assurance — which reinsured the risk abroad — not getting affected much.

Air India, which has 170 aircraft, has taken an insurance policy that includes aircraft or hull and liability for third party and passengers. Air India Express’s aircraft is reinsured for around Rs 375 crore and Air India will recover this amount from reinsurers as the plane has been totally damaged.

Read | Air India Express flight touched down beyond safe zone, death toll rises to 18

This will be one of Air India’s largest insurance claims. Air India had paid around $30 million for the renewal on April 1. The airline has taken policies covering the aircraft or hull and liability for third party and passengers. It has to also pay the passengers who have died and have been injured from insurance claims.

New India-led consortium retained just 5 per cent and the balance value of the risk has been reinsured with Indian reinsurer GIC Re — 5 per cent obligatory cession — and 90 per cent with global reinsurers with the lead underwriter being AIG.

Industry participants say, in this case, total loss claim settlement will take place as the plane can’t be repaired.

Read | His last photo from Air India Express plane: ‘Back to home’

Sources said the survey exercise for the insurance claim settlement has already started. While the cost of the Boeing 737 ranges from $90 million to $134 million, the insured value of the ill-fated 737 Air India Express plane would be around half of the original cost or even less than that — or $ 45-55 million — after considering the depreciation, insurance sources said. “Reinsurers will consider the claim after taking into account all the details relating to the accident,” they said.

Air India is purely a reinsurance-driven account and almost over 95 per cent of the cover is reinsured in the London market. GIC gets the mandatory 5 per cent of the reinsurance as per the government regulations. GIC has not yet divulged its share in the Air India insurance deal.

Explained: Why the Air India crash would have been much worse had the aircraft caught fire

According to insurance officials, Air India may have to shell out more premium when it goes to renew the cover next year. In fact, a spate of accidents this year is expected to push up premium across the world.

Air India’s insurance renewal cost had almost doubled to around $28 million for the year 2018-19 as a host of adverse factors including the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines aircraft put an end to the days of discounts in the segment. Air India has reportedly paid over $ 30 million premium in 2020.

Also read | Kozhikode plane crash: Need for land to extend runway ran into govt wall

Insurance participants feel that since the global accident trend has been mostly stable, the accident is unlikely to lead to a rise in insurance premium across the industry.

“Aviation insurance is a global product and the trend on product and premium is mostly controlled by global reinsurance majors. Since, the trend over the last five years (after the Malaysian airlines crash in 2014 has been largely stable, the Kozhikode incident is unlikely to lead to a spike in premiums,” said a senior official with a general insurance company.

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However, some feel that premiums may get raised in the next fiscal in the wake of few accidents this year. On May 22, 2020, Pakistan’s Airbus A320 crashed in a densely populated residential area of Karachi near the runway. Of the 99 people on board the aircraft, 97 were killed. On February 5, 2020, the Boeing 737-800 of Pegasus Airlines operating the route skidded off the runway while landing at Istanbul-Sabiha Gökçen International Airport, Turkey. Three people were killed, 179 people were injured, and the aircraft was destroyed

On January 8, 2020, Ukraine’s Boeing 737-800 operating the route was shot down shortly after takeoff from Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport by the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp killing all 176 passengers and crew.

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