‘Minor lapse on part of driver no reason to dismiss insurance claim’

Telangana State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission held that a minor lapse on the driver’s part is not liable for a claim to be dismissed, and directed an insurance company to reimburse Rs. 17.54 lakh.

The Commission bench, comprising president MSK Jaiswal and member Meena Ramanathan, was dealing with a complaint filed by Ch Sudhakara Raju, a resident of Banjara Hills, against Bharati Axa General Insurance Co Ltd. The complainant stated that in September 2013 his car, purchased for over Rs. 60.21 lakh, was stranded in Jubilee Hills due to heavy rains when water overflowed from KBR National Park. The water entered the car’s engine, and it would not start. The vehicle was then towed to a workshop on the same night. When this was informed to the opposite party, it sent an appointed surveyor, and after inspecting the vehicle, reported ‘hydrostatic loss’ which was not covered by the insurance policy.

The complainant wrote to the opposite parties contending the outcome of the vehicle inspection as improper. After this, the complainant engaged the services of an IRDA surveyor who assessed the damage and noted that it was due to flood water entering the engine manifold, damaging its parts. The cost of repair was estimated at over Rs. 20 lakh. For their part, the opposite party denied all allegations, and maintained that except Rs. 53,108, no amount is payable by it, and that the damages to the vehicle are not insured.

After taking all submission into consideration, the Commission noted that while there was a ‘minor lapse’ on the driver’s part, ‘that by itself cannot be taken as a serious lapse on her part so as to deny the benefits of the insurance policy.’

The order reads, “Taking into consideration the above facts and circumstances and the natural human nature and the way in which people conduct themselves, we feel that it will be highly unjust, unfair and injustice to the complainant with the order so as to make her suffer for the act which she has admittedly committed as has been borne out from the letter Ex.A5. We feel that the interest of justice demands that this by itself cannot be taken as a ground for the insurance company to deny the claim of the complainant.”

The Commission also touched upon the appointment of surveyors by both parties in the case. Apart from directing the opposite party to reimburse Rs. 17.54 lakh as assessed by surveyors of the complainant, costs of Rs. 10,000 were also ordered.

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