The entire fleet of Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) vehicles, coming up to more than 7,700 buses, run without insurance. Though officials take cover under a State Government rule exempting the corporation from compulsory insurance, they admit that efforts to get insurance cover from nationalised companies have failed.
Responding to an RTI application filed by Vijay Prasad Alva of National Human Rights Federation of India, an NGO, the Accident Division of KSRTC said none of their vehicles had third-party or comprehensive insurance.
KSRTC runs 427 Airavat class of buses, 387 Rajahamsa class of buses, and 6,909 ‘other’ types of buses in the State and five other States and one Union Territory.
Mr. Alva said he sought the information after a pedestrian was knocked down on February 23 at Pumpwell Circle. Though the family was given Rs. 50,000 from the Accident Relief Fund as compensation, Mr. Alva said the lack of insurance denied the family a bigger compensation.
To the query asking why insurance was not sought after, KSRTC responds that it was in “talks” with insurers
Kamalaksha P., an advocate specialising in insurance claims, said with comprehensive insurance, the victim will be able to get their claims much faster. “Currently, even if the court orders compensation, KSRTC takes its time, sometimes, delaying the procedure for years,” he said. He estimated that out of 100 cases, delay in payment after a court order was seen in at least 30 cases.
A KSRTC official said it was “exempt” from getting compulsory motor vehicle insurance and instead had an internal insurance fund to cover passengers and drivers travelling in the bus.
However, he added that an experiment to get insurance cover from nationalised insurers in 2004 failed after a year.
“When it came to the renewal, they backed out, saying our compensations were more than the premiums,” he said.