Mumbai may be all decked up to welcome its favourite God, with Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations starting from September 2. Behind the scenes though, the preparations have been impacted by the economic slowdown.
Amid a 20-25 percent drop in collections for the Ganesh Chaturthi, the insurance cover taken by pandals have also been hit. While there was a 30 percent jump in insurance cover in 2018, the growth has been almost flat in 2019.
Ganesh Chaturthi refers to the 11-day festival held to honour the Hindu elephant god Ganesh. Among all the festivals celebrated in Maharashtra, Ganesh Chaturthi is the biggest from the cost and scale perspective.
Sources told Moneycontrol that all the mandals (organisers) put together have taken about Rs 610 crore of insurance cover this season. This is less than a 2 percent increase over the last year.
The city’s richest Ganesh mandal, GSB Seva Mandal in Kings Circle, has taken a cover of Rs 266.65 crore. This includes jewellery, personal accident policy for devotees and workers, and any third party liabilities due to incidents like terrorism, earthquake among others. The GSB idol is adorned with about 90 kg of gold.
The insurance period kicks in right from the time the jewellery is taken out of the locker and lasts till the day it is put back.
The city’s most popular Ganesh mandal, Lalbaugcha Raja has taken an insurance of Rs 25 crore (similar to 2018), said Mangesh Dalvi, Treasurer – Labaugcha Raja Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav.
In 2018, the amount came down from the Rs 51-crore cover from earlier. Further, the mandal used to take a consolidated cover as a “Big Brother” gesture for the other smaller Ganeshotsav organisers as well for Rs 10 crore. However, they have discontinued this cover, said Dalvi.
While this has not stopped the smaller mandals from taking liability covers, the quantum has gone down.
“There have been several mandals in Pune and Kolhapur that have decided to not insurance this year. Cost constraints are a factor cited for this development,” said the head of commercial business at a mid-size private insurer.
In 2018, there was a sudden rush to buy insurance covers for the idol after reports of mandals getting impacted due to heavy rainfall in 2017. However, industry sources said that a majority of covers had been for public liability in 2018.
The cover sizes range from Rs 10 lakh to as high as Rs 300 crore. State-owned general insurers are the dominant players in this market though private insurers are also gaining ground by offering competitive premiums. The premium depends on the size of the cover and usually is 1-1.5 percent of the sum-assured.
Insurance is a must-have during the 10-day festivities not just due to the fact that the idol is adorned with gold, diamond and other precious jewellery, but for the a risk of accidents from the sheer number of people visiting the Ganesh mandals on a daily basis.
For instance, around 10 lakh devotees are estimated to visit Lalbaugcha Raja mandal every day during the ten days of the festival. The insurance will protect the devotees against any mishap or untoward incidents.
Having a public liability policy insures the mandal against any untoward incident or accident that affects the visitors. Insurers say that, despite the risks involved, several mandals have refused to take a cover.