The insurance scheme issue in the University of Pune (UoP) appears to be getting somewhere finally and according to UoP’s senior senate member Prof Nandkumar Nikam, who pioneered the scheme in the 90s, the students’ welfare department was given the responsibility to ensure claims in case of accident or death of student on record were done at the earliest.
MiD DAY has been covering the issue in a three-part series and according to official documents of the UoP, out of 53 cases of accidental deaths and accidents recorded last year, 30 cases are yet to be settled by insurance companies.
The current practice in case of accident or death of any student on record, is that the college collects the required documents and directly approaches the insurance company with the claim. Nikam had pioneered the scheme in the UoP in 1992 when he was director of the student insurance scheme.
“When we started the scheme in the 90s, we fixed the responsibility of the students’ welfare department very clearly. Ideally, the college need not approach the insurance company directly to make a claim. It’s the responsibility of the students’ welfare department to follow-up the case with the insurance company and settle the claim as early as possible,” Nikam said.
According to sources however, on many occasions the insurance company does not cooperate with the college administration and the claim remains unsettled for a long time.
The affiliated colleges are questioning the role that the UoP’s students’ welfare department has been playing since the university is collecting funds under the insurance scheme. A certain amount of criticism has been coming in over the students’ unsettled claims, which is ideally the responsibility of UoP’s students’ welfare department to handle.
“We have deposited Rs 73,770 as premium for 10,862 students studying in our college to the UoP, under the student insurance scheme. Yet when a claim is to be made, we have to communicate and submit the student’s documents to the respective insurance company. Why has the UoP’s students’ welfare department not played the role of mediator and ensured that the process is completed as early as possible?” said Dr Bhaskar Zawre, principal, New Arts, Commerce and Science College, Ahmadnagar.
When asked why the department is not proactive in settling claims, UoP’s students’ welfare department director Dr Pandit Shelke said that the task of submitting the required documents to the insurance company is entirely the college’s responsibility. The state principal union’s chairperson and UoP senior senate member Nandkumar Nikam rubbished Shelke’s statement.
Quite a task
The UoP has around 300 affiliated colleges in Ahmadnagar and Nashik districts. Still when any college has to submit student’s documents to avail insurance scheme, the college staff has to come all the way to Pune to interact with the insurance company. “Till last year, colleges in Ahmadnagar and Nashik had an option to submit documents in regional offices. But now, college staff has to come to Pune to follow-up with cases. We face a major inconvenience as a result.” UoP’s senate member Shivaji Sable said.