KATHMANDU, Nov 25: In May, the government had made commitment to increase insurance coverage of passengers and provide third party insurance for public transportation. But it is a commitment that, like many others, needs to be fulfilled.
The cost of treatment beyond the insurance policy used to be covered by the committees of the transport entrepreneurs, or the syndicates that were declared illegal in May.
An assurance was then given to double insurance coverage for the death of a passenger or a third party person to Rs 1 million from Rs 500,000. There was also an assurance to increase the cost of injury coverage to Rs 600,000 from Rs 300,000.
But no government entity has worked on these commitments yet, though many injured passengers have struggled to cover the cost of treatment which is often excessively high.
There was a proposal to introduce a separate category of insurance worth Rs 1.5 million for head injury or any kind of spinal injury, as these cases would require longer hospital stays and complicated operations creating extreme financial burden for the injured.
Officials of the Beema Samiti (the insurance sector regulator) and government officials agree to the fact that coverage of head and spinal injuries needs urgent attention as numbers of road accidents and serious injuries have been increasing alarmingly.
However, except for the Department of Transport Management that made a public call asking insurance companies to submit proposals of the premium rates for increased insurance coverage, concerned government agencies have not done anything about it yet.
But surprisingly, the department has not received any proposal though experts in the insurance sector believe that extension of such insurance coverage will help the insurance sector grow.
Talking to Republica, director general of the department Labanya Dhakal said that they have planned to begin amendment in the Transport Management Rule 1993 for increasing insurance coverage.
“We started making a public call for the proposals on insurance premiums but none showed interest to submit their proposal. Probably they are also in a bid of forming syndicate,” added Dhakal.
Dhakal however vowed to start discussing with transport entrepreneurs as well as the Beema Samiti for increasing the insurance coverage.
However, officials of the Beema Samiti, which fixes insurance premium for all insurance products in consultation with insurance sector representatives, say that they are ready to begin the process but they have not been consulted yet.
Raju Raman Paudel, spokesperson of the Samiti, said they were aware that covering risks of accidents was important for the transport sector. “No government agency has approached us to do the needful for increasing the cost of insurance,” he said.
This clearly shows that the government agencies are not serious. Dhakal however promised that they will start homework on the matter as soon as possible.
By mid-November, all the committees of transport entrepreneurs will be void, as per the government’s initiative in May of ending syndicate in the transport sector.
Yogendra Karmacharya, president of the Federation of Nepalese National Transport Entrepreneurs (FNNTE), said that they had repeatedly asked the government to increase the insurance coverage but government agencies were doing nothing in that regard.
Earlier, despite their claims, the transport committees covered additional treatment costs only if they were pressed really hard by the relatives and friends of the injured in case of an accident.