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Professional hazards

If you are engaged in an extremely hazardous profession, chances are you may never be able to get insured, writes Sanjeev Sinha.

india Updated: Mar 31, 2008 23:38 IST
Sanjeev Sinha

If you are among those who enjoy bungee jumping or extreme sports, or are engaged in extremely hazardous occupations—such as doing dangerous stunts or being a member of a bomb disposal squad—then you need to tread with extra care. For, chances are that very few insurance companies in the world would like to give you any cover.

It is just because of this fact that world-renowned action star Jackie Chan is still largely barred from insurance cover and so is his stunt team. Chan, in fact, even holds the Guinness World Record for ‘Most Stunts By A Living Actor’, which notes, “no insurance company will underwrite Chan’s productions, in which he performs all his own stunts.” A move, which has prompted Chan to take care of his team on his own.

But other people, who are in risky jobs and businesses, are not as lucky. In Bollywood, for instance, stunt performer gets a raw deal not only from insurance companies but also from their employers or production houses. Sometimes even big actors have to rely on their own personal accident cover, which is also not easy to get, particularly when they are doing any life-threatening scene.

Surprisingly, there’s no definite government policy or regulation in place to take care of this malady, except some regulations for employer-employee schemes. It is, however, completely at the discretion of companies as to whether or not they provide life cover for their employees (irrespective of risk profile).

P Nandagopal, CEO, Reliance Life Insurance, admits: “There is no policy governing insurance for hazardous occupations other than what is specified under workmen’s compensation act.”

However, several progressive organisations, including the armed forces, have policies and programmes supporting risk covers to people engaged in hazardous activities.

Individuals can also take such covers on their own, provided they are not engaged in extremely-hazardous occupations. “Not all hazardous occupations are excluded from insurance cover, but a job involving a threat to life on a regular basis is generally not encouraged by companies,” says a Tata AIG Life spokesperson.

Some insurance companies, including Tata AIG, Reliance Life, MetLife India and ICICI Prudential, claim to cover customers engaged in hazardous activities. However, they say, the process may involve a detailed assessment and premium adjustment to make it commensurate with the risk involved.

“We do provide insurance cover for people involved in hazardous work, based on the additional information on the level of training, measures and security levels to avoid any unfortunate event. On availability of these information, insurance cover is considered with additional premium,” says Rajesh Relan, MD, MetLife India.

For example, an engineer who supervises for any quarry/mine operation may have a lesser additional premium when compared to a worker who works inside the quarry/mine. “These additional premiums are usually quite nominal,” adds Relan. This means that if you are in a less-hazardous occupation, like working as a marine engineer, a pilot or an investigative journalist, then getting a life cover won’t be that difficult. But in such cases too insurers advise customers to mention his or her occupation and the details of hazards involved to help them assess the risk involved and avoid non-disclosures at the time of claim.

You should, however, always keep it in mind that at times, the accident benefit rider or even the life cover may be denied if the risk element is found to be exceptionally high!