Almost six months after an earthquake measuring 6.8 on the richter scale jolted Bhutan affecting some 38,200 people across the country, a major portion of the grieved households are still awaiting their insurance money.
The General manager of the general insurance department, Royal Insurance Corporation of Bhutan (RICBL), said owing to the prolonged damage assessment by dzongkhag officials, the disbursement of insurance claims has been stalled for so long. “The payment is long overdue, but the delay cannot be attributed to RICB. We need to wait for reports from the dzongkhag officials”, he said.
To exacerbate matters, RICBL have received only a few assessment reports from dzongkhag authorities.
According to the Department of Disaster Management (DDM), a total of 6,939 houses have suffered damages and the assessment for more than 800 houses is still pending.
RICBL has received the damage assessment report for 6,108 households from the dzongkhag authorities of which 2,685 have been settled and 132 rejected due to non-fulfillment of formalities. The total insurance claims amount calculated by RICBL till now is more than NU 13 billion.
The highest claim made till date is from Paro dzongkhag, the worst affected with 1,881 households followed by 565 houses in Haa. An amount of Nu 52,440,000 has been calculated by RICBL for settlement which is subject to increase because of pending assessment reports. RICBL officials said their office received the damage assessment for Paro dzongkhag only on March 1, 2012. The rural insurance department of RICBL, Thimphu is manned by only two employees while the cases come in thousands. The officials will take at least a month for Paro Dzongkhag alone in settling the claims.
Nganglam suffered the least damage with eight houses affected and insurance claims amounted to Nu 170,000 which was released from RICBL.
An official from RICBL’s rural insurance department, Karma Dorji said, the dzongkhag authorities in the first place delay the assessment report and later the disbursement even when the insurance claims are released from RICBL.
The assessment report document comprises of a joint inspection form and premium receipt for rural house insurance provided by RICBL. The assessment is done by dzongkhag authorities, Royal Bhutan Police (RBP), RICBL official and the Gup or Mangmi.
The issue of delayed assisstance by the government was raised by Opposition Leader Tshering Tobgay during the last National Assembly. However, the government claimed that the government’s response to the disaster had been adequate, and that enough help was rendered to greived. 565 households in four gewogs of Haa will receive their insurance claims. Within a week’s time from today, RICBL will be disbursing Nu 36,320,000 to households of Samar, Essu, Bjee and Sangbay gewogs. For the remaining two gewogs in Haa; Kartshog and Gakidling, it means the concerned households need to wait for an indefinite period of time before they receive a penny.
Kartshog Gup Chundu said Lyonchen, on his visit, assured that everything will be in place in two months but there have been no response at all on the insurance claims till now. “We have no idea as to when we will be receiving something”, he said.
DDM records shows that the disaster caused damage to 6,939 rural homes, 279 Dzongs/Lhakhangs, 90 Chortens, 65 schools/NFE centres, 43 hospitals/BHUs/ORCs, 25 RNR structures, 30 Gup’s offices, 14 other infrastructures and 6 irrigation canals.