India offers adventure tourism in air, land and water. Parasailing, river rafting or bungee jumping are just some of the popular sports on offer. However, with ‘adventure’ comes risk. Unfortunate incidents can happen to anyone, anywhere, despite the best training, equipment, infrastructure and guidance.
India has the potential of becoming a major global hub for adventure tourism. The country has every conceivable geographical terrain, is a global biodiversity hotspot, and has 73 pc of the culturally diverse Himalayan range, as well as rich fauna, flora and avifauna. Little wonder then that India hosts eight million foreign tourists annually.
However, there are no specific adventure insurance policies in India. Standard life and health insurance policies will reject claims for lives lost or injuries incurred while participating in adventure sports.
Now India has proposed mandatory insurance coverage for adventure tourists, tourism operators and hotels to safeguard them against any losses, including injury and death from adventure tourism.
The 165-page draft guidelines of the tourism ministry for adventure tourism in India states, “In India, where no specific adventure insurance policy exists, the past is witness to many situations, where such specialised insurance would have been useful and immensely helpful.”
With the exponential increase in adventure tourism in the country, especially among domestic tourists, there is “an urgent” need for specific insurance products, to cover all parties in the adventure sports ecosystem.
An adventure tour operator should have one of the three insurance policies — a third-party liability insurance, a comprehensive general liability insurance or a tour-operator liability insurance.
As per the guidelines, “Adventure (tourism) operators must also consider having a personal accident and group medical covers for their staff, as well as directors and officers’ liability insurance.”
The guidelines state that a basic adventure policy for tourists should comprise accidental protection or coverage for death and disabilities, accidental hospitalisation and basic medical evacuation, be it in the air, on land, in water, on ice or in the mountains.
The need of the hour is policies, which will offer a 360-degree protection.
The draft prepared in consultation with the Adventure Tour Operators Association of India says insurances create a sense of professionalism among the operators, clients and the medical service providers. “Better risk management, swift action and high-value financial security due to the coverage will lead to many more people venturing into outdoor pursuits, with a sense of calm and peace of mind. It’s a vital component of the vast growth potential of Indian adventure tourism.”
Ajeet Bajaj, Padmashri awardee and co-founder of the Adventure Tour Operators Association of India notes that, when it comes to risk mitigation and management, India has to address guidelines, guides as well as gear.