Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu’s announcement to provide optional travel insurance to train passengers prior to their travel comes as a welcome move for all the travellers who are susceptible to train accidents in the country that stood at an average of 84 accidents per year in the period between March 2011 and February 2015.
While there is an option of availing travel insurance for domestic air travel and travellers can opt for it at the time of booking the ticket, this is the first time that such an option will be made available to train travellers at the time of booking tickets.
KG Krishnamoorthy Rao, MD & CEO of Future Generali India Insurance said that the government can look to offer the travel insurance in two ways. “Either they can provide an option at the IRCTC website and avail the same while selecting the option at the time of booking the tickets or the ministry can tie up with a few insurers and the travellers can buy the policy from them before their travel,” he said.
Over the period between March 2011 and February 2015, a total of 336 consequential train accidents (excluding incidents at unmanned level crossings) occurred resulting into loss of 330 lives and leaving 1,116 injured.
“People using the rail route to travel to various destinations in India are equally susceptible to accidents and other problems, similar to any kind of long distance travel by any other mode of transport. Hence taking a travel insurance while booking a rail journey would highly benefit rail travellers,” said M Ravichandran, president, insurance, TATA AIG General Insurance. He further said that his company already offers domestic travel insurance product for both rail and air travel within India. “Our policy offers coverage for trip cancellation, accidental death, accidental medical expenses, accommodation charges due to trip delay and emergency medical evacuation benefits,” he added.
Rao, said, “This is a good initiative as it increases insurance penetration and gives financial protection to passengers against unfortunate circumstances while travelling.”
Industry insiders said that currently the Indian domestic travel insurance market accounts for around 8 -10 per cent of the total travel insurance market worth Rs 500 crore.