Vehicle insurance liable in all cases theft

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By Adv. Jatin Ramaiya

Samri Devi Shaw, Kolkata, was constrained to approach the National Consumer Disputes Commissions, New Delhi, against the concurrent rejection of her complaint against New India Assurance Co. Ltd. The complaint was filed by Devi was against the rejection of her insurance claim with respect to theft of her tanker. Devi said that, the driver of the tanker left Paradeep Port along with the empty tanker but did not reach the destination.  An FIR was registered against him.  The tanker could not be found nor the driver. The insurance company rejected her claim on the ground that it was not a case of theft and therefore not covered under the terms of the policy.

Shaw first filed her complaint before District Forum, which accepted the defense of the insurance company that it was not a case of theft but was a case of criminal breach of trust and  the claim was not payable. Unfortunately, the state commission also upheld the view of the district forum.

The National Commission allowed the revision petition filed by Shaw.  Justice (Retd) VK Jain presiding members of the Commission observed that the issue involved in the case of Shaw was already decided in the case of   New India Assurance vs. Neerja Singh, wherein the national commission allowed the petition directed to settle the claim as per the terms of the insurance policy within eight weeks.  The petitioner shall also be entitled to interest @ 9% p.a., for six months from the date of the lodging of the claim till the date of the payment. 

The Commission whilst relying on the other judgements settled the principle that, even if it is assumed that the driver dishonestly took away the taxi-car, even then the case would fall under sec.378, Indian Penal Code wherein ‘theft’ has been defined and therefore, covered under insurance policy.

Rejecting the contention this Commission inter-alia held as under, “The only question which arises for consideration in this case is as to whether this was a case of theft of the vehicle or not.  If it was a case of theft, the claim in terms of the insurance policy was payable to the complainant. 

The commission held that, the insurer was not justified in rejecting the claim.  The impugned orders was therefore, set aside and the insurer is directed to settle the claim as per the terms of the insurance policy within eight weeks. The petitioner shall also be entitled to interest @ 9% p.a. for six months from the date of the lodging of the claim till the date of the payment, said the order.