Bengal govt asks insurers to cover damages caused to vehicles

Last Updated: Tue, Feb 19, 2013 22:10 hrs

Kolkata: In a desperate bid to keep life normal during two-day shutdown call starting tomorrow, the West Bengal government on Tuesday appealed to four public insurance companies to cover any damage caused to vehicles.

West Bengal transport minister Madan Mitra on Tuesday met officials from the insurance companies to make an appeal in this regard.

"The state government is assuring us on law and order issues. In such a case, if some untoward incident happens to any bus or taxi, that should be taken care of by the insurers.I have spoken to representatives of four insurance companies(National Insurance,New India, Oriental and United India). They have promised all cooperation."

Earlier, Mitra met representatives of all major transport unions assuring them all kind of security for tomorrow's strike.

"All state transport unions has agreed to ply buses and taxis tomorrow. We normally do not get any compensation from the insurer in case of damages on a bandh. But, hopefully, with the state government appealing to insurers, this time it will be taken care of," Bengal Taxi Association president Bimal Guha, who attended the meeting along with other transport union heads, said.

Other major transport unions like Joint Council of Bus Syndicate, Kolkata taxi drivers association, Minibus Union too agreed to ply vehicles tomorrow.

Insurers, however, seem to be baffled by the state government's request.

"If it is an accident, we will certainly consider the claim. But the owner must have a comprehensive motor insurance cover. Also, he needs to prove that the mishap did not occur due to adventurous driving. If there is no insurance cover, the insurance company will not be able to indemnify the losses," a senior executive of Kolkata-based National Insurance Company said.

Insurers said there are two types of cover – the mandatory third party motor insurance and the optional own damage cover. "The own damage cover will protect a cab owner from losses if his vehicle is damaged by protesters. But since it is optional not everyone opts for it," a top official of another state-run insurance company said.He added that an insurance company normally entertains claims even if a vehicle suffers damages during a strike.

"A strike is different from curfew. Claims are normally considered if the owner is able to confirm that adequate precaution was taken to avoid the loss," the official said.

However, it was not clear whether the vehicles, not having comprehensive motor insurance cover, will be compensated by state government itself. West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, earlier on yesterday had said, the government would compensate people if their properties were damaged during the shutdown.

"I humbly request all and sundry not to participate in shutdowns. I assure you that Trinamool Congress is with you, so rest assured I am your protector. If there is any damage to your shops or property, I will compensate you," she said.

Although it's two-day strike in other parts of the country, trade unions declared to observe February 21 as an industrial strike.

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