Insuring damage

  • 14/03/2007

A way out of conflict?

One of Sri Lanka's biggest corporates, Ceylinco Insurance, was happy to take on Ranjith Bandara's research and develop a viable scheme for elephant depredation for rural farmers.

An insurance scheme that is partly corporate social responsibility and partly profit driven, Ceylinco will charge a small addition to the premium payments of existing life/vehicle policy holders. This money will feed a trust from which compensations will be paid out. This effectively transfers the financial burden of conservation to urban, city-dwelling people who do not have to risk their lives and livelihood living in areas with large numbers of elephants.

Due to the wide reach of the Ceylinco Group's branch network, an insurance claim can be processed within days. This is much in contrast to the official compensation which can take several months to materialise.

Farmers will also have to contribute a nominal fee "to establish ownership in the scheme', Bandara says.The payments are Rs 300,000 for death, Rs 200,000 for death of spouse, Rs 50,000 for property and Rs 25,000 for crop loss. There are other benefits like built-in child policies and educational cover for children of farmers. The insurance has to be renewed every crop season. The most progressive point is that land ownership is not a consideration for qualification. Many farmers suffering elephant damage are slash-and-burn (shifting) cultivators who encroach on government lands. "This will also force the government to reconsider the problems of rural landless peasantry,' Bandara believes.

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