Kochi: A fire insurance of a meager Rs 1 crore and a public liability insurance of Rs 5 lakh for two days, was all that the Puttingal temple administration in Kollam, took, where more than 112 people were killed in the fire cracker tragedy in the wee hours of Sunday. More than 350 people were injured and 500 houses destroyed at Puttingal tragedy.
The amount spent for the fire display at temple is estimated to be `10 lakh. The amount spent to buy the insurance cover is about Rs 50,000.
The policy taken by the temple from the Kollam office of New India Assurance Company is insufficient to cover even the damages. Further, since firecrackers were stored without permission, claim settlement could get delayed.
“The victims can make claims from three sources. First from the temple authority, secondly if anyone files a PIL in the court and third compensation declared by the state,” said Delhibased insurance expert Vipul Soota, co-founder of Learning Enablers, an insurance education portal.
Many of the 105 major and small temples in Kerala are not insured or under-insured during the festival days. Thiruvananthapuram has 27 major temples and Alappuzha 15.
“Generally these occasions are gravely under-insured,” said Viswanathan Odatt, Managing Director, Aims Insurance Broking Private Ltd.
Often fire display in temple festivals in Kerala are conducted with no insurance cover or for pittance. “The insurance is taken, with a limited view—to get the approval for conducting fire display from the authorities,” said a senior executive of New India Assurance Company.
“The amount is too small when compared to the damages and loss of life. The only hope is the ‘waiver’ clause in the case of the insurance policy which allows the insurance company to decide whether to give the insurance amount or not,” said Ramachandran Nair, Administrative Officer, New India Assurance Company.
“Taking fire and public liability insurance for temple festivals and church feasts in the state should be made mandatory and properly insured,” says Sushil Kumar, an LIC agent who has worked in the region for more than two decades, adding the people here have more than one life policy.