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June 25, 1997


And now, insurance for elephants too!

D Jose in Thiruvanathapuram

It's the insurance agent's favourite nightmare -- he knocks on a door with intention's of wangling a sale, and is greeted by a hunk with the physique of a Schwarzenneger and the explosive potential of RDX.

That nightmare acquired a new dimension this week, when Oriental Insurance, in concert with the Kerala Elephant Owners Association, introduced a new scheme to insure pachyderms.

On Monday, 85 elephant owners signed on for the scheme, on its inaugural day. And association officials indicate that eventually, an estimated 870 elephants will be covered by the scheme. And that, in turn, is expected to fetch the insurance company an estimated Rs 3 million by way of premium.

For now, only elephants owned by members of the KEOA will be covered by the scheme, which is managed under the aegis of Oriental Insurance Corporation's Muvattupuzha office.

Which in turn means that over 100 elephants, owned by various temple administrations in the state, will not be covered by the scheme as the respective temple trusts are not members of the association.

OIC's divisional officer Dr M Johnson told Rediff On The NeT that efforts, however, were on to bring temple administrations also under the purview of the scheme, thus ensuring that all domesticated elephants were covered.

The scheme, Dr Johnson explained, would cover death of elephants, damage to property and/or bodily injuries caused by elephants, and even death of mahouts. The required premium is 2.14 per cent, and for third party insurance would be in the region of Rs 3 per Rs 1,000.

The insurance cover for mahouts will have a premium of Rs 25.65 per Rs 100,000. The insurance company for its part would pay 80 per cent of the cost of the elephant or the sum assured as the case may be, in the event of the death of one of the elephants covered by the scheme. There is also provision to pay a further Rs 25,000 towards cremation costs.

EOA president T N Arun Kumar explained that in general, the price of an elephant varied as per size, though the prevailing market rates ranged from Rs 500,000 to Rs 1.8 million.

While there is no exact census figures available, EOA officials indicate that there could be roughly 1,000 elephants under individual ownership in the state. A comprehensive survey of domesticated elephants is being planned, Arun Kumar added.

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