Monday 2 September 2013

An insurance for elephants

We have all heard and read and even actively participated in taking insurance cover for life: against accidents, thefts and even house insurance. We have also read about celebrities insuring their limbs and organs.
But how about insuring elephants and mahouts and the team that trains the elephants. Yes, there is such an insurance cover and this can happen only in India.
The twelve elephants that have already arrived in Bangalore from different forests to participate in Dasara festivities this year are being insurance for a handsome sum and so are the Mahouts and Kavadis.
If the elephants are the star attraction of the Dasara celebrations, the Mahouts and Kavadis stay with the gigantic animals and take care of them even after the Dasara ends. No wonder, the insurance cover is extended to them too.
Forget the insurance. The elephants, their mahouts and Kavadis are treated royally till the time the Dasara takes off and ends. They are the regular VIPS of the Nada Habba and they are taken care of in a manner they would never be for the rest of the year.
By the way, it is not only the elephants but also the public as well as private property in Mysore that have been insured against damage caused by Dasara elephants. This is because the elephants are regularly taken out for rehearsals on the 5-km route for the grand Jamboo Savari on Vijayadashami.
The insurance for the elephants, their mahouts and Kavadis have been  done by United India Insurance Company Ltd. The company has given insurance cover to all the twelve elephants, including Balarama, which is likely to carry the Golden Howdah.
The reason for insuring the elephants are many. The elephants are brought to Mysore from the forests on huge trucks. The elephants  are susceptible to injuries during transportation or they might cause damage to public or private property during their stay in Mysore as they can become temperamental. Therefore, each elephant has been given insurance for sums ranging from Rs. 1 lakh to Rs. 2.5 lakh. Besides, the mahout and kavadi has been insured for Rs. 1 lakh each.
The insurance is taken out by the Dasara Festival Committee which paid Rs. 29,000 to the company as premium for the insurance of elephants, mahouts and property.
The insurance is valid only till the elephants and mahouts are in Mysore for the festivities. It becomes void once they return to forests after Dasara.
In case of any event involving elephants like damage to life and property or the animal itself during their sojourn in Mysore, the company will take the responsibility of compensating the victim or the owner of a property.
The idea of insuring elephants was first mooted in 2004. Since then, the elephants have been regularly insured. Fortunately, there has not been a single unpleasant incident involving Dasara jumbos has been reported so far
Interestingly, the calculation of insurance amount of the elephants was arrived at by Forest Department’s veterinarian Nagaraj and he based the figure on the age of the elephant and other parameters. The insurance premium varies between a tusker and a female elephant. The 50-year-old Balarama, the tallest among the Dasara elephants, has been insured for Rs. 2.5 lakh.  

Dr. Nagaraj, who has been taking care of the elephants for the last eight years. 

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