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Private passenger transport operators' body Bus & Car Operators Confederation of India (BOCI) has requested insurance regulator Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) to extend vehicle insurance validity. The appeal came amid coronavirus outbreak in the country.

"We urge IRDAI and the government to extend vehicle insurance validity equal to number of lockdown days from the date of expiry without additional premium and no increase in annual premium for next one year," BOCI president Prasanna Patwardhan said.

Patwardhan mentioned operators are under pressure from multiple sides — fuel price hikes, reduced capacity due to social distancing norms, loan EMIs, taxes and insurance premiums, among others.

"The ongoing financial burden with no revenue in the past quarter has pushed us on the brink of collapse," he said.

BOCI operators run 17 lakh buses and account for 30 crore passenger trips. Its members also operate 1.1 million cars which are used for which are used for intercity travel, as school buses, and as tourist vehicles.

At present, the operators will not be able to pay premiums, leading to large number of defaults, as they have not been able to operate since lockdown began, he said.

Owners pay about 1 lakh per year towards insurance premium for a bus, and for premium buses it might go up to 2 lakh, he added.

The vehicles have been grounded since lockdown, therefore third-party damage is ruled out. Since a major part of the premium amount is paid towards third-party damage, the insurance companies should increase validity equal to the number of lockdown days, BOCI said.

"The validity extension sought will bring much-needed relief to an already stressed sector," Patwardhan added.

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