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Astronaut insurance depends on reinsurance support: Experts
Chennai, Sep 22 - Providing insurance covers - life and accident - for Indian astronauts, who will be part of the country's manned Gaganyaan mission, largely depends on the underwriting policy of an insurer and the reinsurance support, said experts.
India plans to send three astronauts to space in its own rocket by 2021.
"If a person has already taken a life insurance policy when he was not aware of being sent as an astronaut, he/she will enjoy the cover," a senior actuary G.N. Agarwal told IANS.
Agarwal has been the former President of the Institute of Actuaries of India and also former Executive Director (Actuarial), Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC). He is also on the board of Acko General Insurance Ltd.
"However, the policy should not lapse and should not have been revived during the period after one becomes aware that he is likely to go as an astronaut in which case he needs to disclose and the insurer will follow its underwriting policy and may allow or not. If allowed, the premium is likely to be enhanced," he said.
"The issuance of new policies may or may not be issued depending on insurera¿s underwriting policy, reinsurance support and others."
On the probable premium rate, Agarwal said: "There are differences in the way a risk is perceived. The base of astronauts is small. Not many people are seeking cover. The premium depends on the probability and unless many people are there who go to the space and come back safely, the probability of safe return may not be known and hence the chargeable premium."
According to him, as the risk is accidental, the astronaut can approach a general insurer for insurance cover.
"While arriving at the premium, an insurer will go into various aspects including the rocket's success record, the space agency's success record, risk management efficiencies and several other aspects," R. Raghavan, former GM, General Insurance Corporation of India, and the founder-CEO of the Insurance Information Bureau, told IANS.
Industry experts said the value of insurance could be arrived at by calculating the person's earnings till his retirement and discounting to arrive at the present value.
Raghavan said that even F1 racing is risky but insurers do insure the drivers.
Insurance experts said in most cases, space insurance is underwritten by primary insurers based on the reinsurance support.
Even if there is no major reinsurance support for insuring Indian astronauts who are part of the country's manned space mission Gaganyaan, wont the insurers benefit by the brand equity that could be built by extending the insurance cover?
"Branding value aspect will be there and the insurer may like to provide cover but would need reinsurance support generally," Agarwal said.
Responding to that, brand expert Harish Bijoor told IANS: "This surely an opportunity for an Indian insurer. The issue is all about territory. Today the world is an oyster and the insurer need to embrace the cosmos if need be. Actuarial services will have a challenge, but this challenge needs to be met."
"The brand equity mileage gained is going to be far bigger than the cost. Costs need to be appropriated a larger scientific community," Bijoor, also the founder of Harish Bijoor Consults Inc, added.
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