The number of reported cooking gas accidents increased from 33 in 2013-14 to 68 in 2014-15 (April 2014 to January 2015). The fatalities due to such accidents shot up from 23 to 37 during the same period, while the number of injured persons increased from 56 to 159. As consumers, how many of us are aware that we have LPG insurance cover and can claim it when there is an accident?
Fact is, gas agencies mostly do not inform consumers about the cover. Another fact is: all registered liquid petroleum gas (LPG) cylinder users are insured against the risk of accidents at their registered addresses. The cover is for all family members. It is an inbuilt cover and does not require extra documentation. LPG-related accidents are covered (as per fixed limits) under 'public liability policy for oil industries’. Both LPG distributors and oil marketing companies (OMCs) take third-party liability insurance. The expenditure towards payment of premium for this insurance is incurred by them and is not separately recovered from the consumer. The LPG accident victim can claim insurance from the company and also from their distributor.
As per certain media reports, LPG consumers can claim insurance coverage of up to Rs 40 lakh in case of an accident. This is partly true. LPG accident victims are covered for death and accident, true, but the insurance coverage is not as reported in print/social media. Also, oil marketing companies do not take any special insurance policy or coverage for individual LPG consumers.
The third-party liability policy (public liability policy) provides personal accident cover, reimburses medical expenses, and covers property damage at authorised customers' registered premises. The sum assured given to the accident victims is based on per event (accident) and per person (victim). In case of death, the kin have to appeal in the court for compensation. The court decides the amount according to the victim's age, salary and other conditions.
The Extent of Claims Payable
Personal accident cover to third parties and customers and property damage at authorised customers' registered premises (irrespective of liability of law) is as under:
- Personal accident: Rs 500,000# per person per event*
- Medical expenses: Rs 1,500,000 per event## (maximum Rs 200,000 per person; immediate relief up to Rs 25,000 per person)*
- Property damage: Maximum Rs 100,000### per event at authorised customers' registered premises*
#increased to Rs 600,000
##increased to Rs 3,000,000
###increased to Rs 200,000
The Claim Procedure
- The insured shall give immediate notice of the accident in writing to the nearest office with a copy to the policy-issuing office of the company, as well as lodge forthwith a complaint with the police
- The insured shall deliver to the company, within 14 days of the date on which the event shall have come to his knowledge, a detailed statement in writing of the loss or damage, with an estimate of the intrinsic value of the property lost and the amount of damage sustained.
- The insured shall tender to the company all reasonable information, assistance and proofs in connection with any claim hereunder.
Note: to ensure that your claim is not rejected, you should use ISI-marked accessories (lighter and gas pipe). You should also ask your gas dealer to carry out maintenance checks at regular intervals.
For Grievance Redressal
- Toll-free number call centre*: A common toll- free number, 1800 2333 555, is in place which can be accessed from anywhere in the country. The number is operational from 8.00 am to 8.00 pm on all days except national holidays.
- Web-based complaints*: Customers can also register their complaints/feedback through the company's website. A complaint registered on the website automatically goes to the concerned officer for further action; an email/SMS is sent to the customer on his/her registered email ID/cellular phone number. A reply is sent to the customer by the concerned office, after examination/redressal. There is provision in the system to enable the customer to view the status of the complaint on the website.
- Timelines for grievance redressal*: The respective company shall endeavour to respond to complaints, received through toll-free number/web portal, within l4 days from the date of registration except in circumstances beyond control of the corporation - viz. natural calamities, strikes, or system breakdowns, or in cases warranting investigation, which may take longer to conclude. In such cases, an interim reply would be sent.
- Grievance cell and personal hearing*: Customers can also register their complaints by post/mail to divisional managers, area managers or nodal officers for respective offices/states. The divisional/ area managers and the state office in-charges also give personal hearing to customers/public without prior appointment, but only on specified time and days that are prominently displayed on the notice boards in the respective offices and also publicised through advertisements published in leading newspapers. The details of the divisional/ area managers/state offices are available on the corporates' websites.
Creating awareness is the need of the hour
• A lot of publicity in print/electronic/social media is needed to publicise this consumer- centric benefit.
A similar public liability policy is required to cover piped natural gas (PNG) presently provided to metro cities (to be expanded in stages to cover all major cities/towns of India) by Indraprastha Gas Limited (IGL) owned by Gas India Limited (GAIL).
Note: all compressed natural gas- (CNG)-fitted vehicles in Delhi and other notified cities have to take their own policy cover on individual basis, as in the case of diesel/petrol variants. This is because of the part-dependence on alternate fuel systems in place in these vehicles, no public liability policy is on the cards as of now.