Repudiation of claim on ground of absence of valid driving licence to drive a transport vehicle, upheld

National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC): While observing that a driving licence must carry an endorsement that permits its holder to drive a transport vehicle even if the licence is valid for a commercial vehicle, NCDRC upheld the repudiation of claim by an insurance company on the ground that at the time of accident driver of the tractor was not having a valid driving licence. Earlier, the insured tractor of the complainant met with an accident. When the complainant submitted a claim of Rs.1,28,900 before Bharati Axa General Insurance Co. Ltd., it was repudiated on the basis of surveyor’s report which mentioned that at the time of accident the tractor was being driven by a person who had licence to drive only “tractor” but as the tractor was attached with two trolleys for the purpose of loading the sugarcane, the driver was not qualified to drive the tractor. When the complainant approached District Forum, it allowed the complaint and directed insurance company to pay Rs.1,02,645 with 9% p.a. interest and further directed to pay Rs.2,000 as cost. Appeal filed by the insurance company in the matter was also dismissed by the State Commission. The insurance company challenged both the orders before National Commission. It was contended by the insurance company that as the tractor was attached to two trolleys to transport sugarcane and the driver’s licence carried no endorsement that permitted him to drive a transport vehicle, repudiation of insurance claim was proper. After hearing both the parties, NCDRC referred to National Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Annappa Irappa Nesaria, (2008) 3 SCC 464 : (2008) 2 SCC (Cri) 99 and observed that at the time of accident when tractor was attached with trolley it was a transport vehicle and driver of the vehicle was not possessing licence for driving transport vehicle and thus, was not possessing valid driving licence. While upholding the repudiation of claim by insurance company, the Commission noted, “It becomes clear that on the date of accident, driver of the vehicle was not possessing valid driving licence to drive transport vehicle, as no endorsement was made on his driving licence to the fact that he is permitted to drive transport vehicle also and in such circumstances, petitioner has not committed any error in repudiating claim.” [Bharati Axa General Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Annasaheb Bapurao Ghandure, 2016 SCC OnLine NCDRC 209, decided on April 21, 2016]

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