Consumer forum directs ₹ 4.65 lakh payment over stolen car

The insurance firm had rejected her claim citing delay in giving intimation about the theft

NELLORE: While disposing of a case filed in February 2020, Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Nellore, directed United India Insurance Company to pay a woman ₹4.65 lakh towards her stolen car, apart from expenses for the case. The insurance firm had rejected her claim citing delay in giving intimation about the theft.

Arava Sarah, a resident of Venkatareddy Nagar in Vedayapalem at Nellore, had purchased a Bolero vehicle under hire purchase scheme from State Bank of India.

She insured it with United India Insurance after paying a premium of ₹ 21,460, which would be in force from July 15, 2011, to November 14, 2012. However, the vehicle parked in front of Sarah’s house was stolen on March 17, 2012. She immediately informed Fifth Town Police Station who registered an FIR and later the insurance company. After searching for nearly three years, police issued an untraceable certificate on January 12, 2015.

Thereafter, Sarah submitted a claim for ₹ 6,20,005 with all required documents to United India Insurance. According to Sarah, officials from the insurance firm came to her house, recorded her and neighbours’ statements and left after assuring to settle the claim within a short period. However, the insurance firm ignored the claim for almost four years despite reminders from the hapless woman without a vehicle yet paying monthly instalments to the bank. Left with no other alternative, she issued a legal notice to United India Insurance on April 17, 2019, demanding settlement of her claim.

Sarah approached the Consumer Forum on February 6, 2022. Officials of United India Insurance submitted to the forum that they are not aware of the theft, which took place on March 17, 2012, till they received a letter from Sarah on January 19, 2015, about two years and 10 months from the date of theft. Citing various conditions in the policy, the firm justified rejecting the claim since they had not been informed about the theft.

While delivering his verdict in the case, forum president Sk Mohd Ismail referred to various judgments related to similar cases in the past. He opined that the entire claim cannot be rejected merely because the complainant did not intimate about the theft of vehicle to the insurance firm. He pointed out that the woman lodged FIR within hours after the car went missing. Stressing that the claim is a genuine, he ordered United India Insurance to pay ₹ 4,65,003 as per policy terms with interest of 9 per cent from the date of complaint i.e. from February 6, 2020, till the date of payment. He also directed the firm to pay ₹ 4,000 towards costs of complaint to the complainant.

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