Repudiation of claim by insurance companies on the ground of delay in intimation of theft of vehicles, upheld

National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC): While observing that the theft of a vehicle is required to be reported to the insurance company immediately after the theft is detected otherwise the insurer is not liable to reimburse the insured for such a loss, NCDRC upheld the repudiation of insurance claim by insurance companies in two separate cases of theft of vehicle. This order was pronounced by the Commission during the hearing of two revision petitions. Subject matter of both the petitions was similar i.e. theft of vehicle and repudiation of claim by insurance companies on the ground of delay in intimation of the theft to the insurance company. In one case complainant purchased a truck dumper and got the same insured with the Reliance General Insurance Co. Ltd. for the period from 10.10.2010 to 09.10.2011. During the subsistence of the insurance policy, the vehicle was stolen between 06.6.2011 to 07.6.2011 and a report with the concerned police station was lodged on 07.6.2011 itself. The intimation to the insurance company however, was given only on 07.9.2011. The claim lodged by the complainant was rejected by the insurance company on account of delayed intimation of the theft to it. Being aggrieved, the complainant approached the concerned District Forum which allowed the complaint and directed payment of Rs.9,50,000/- to the complainant, along with interest on that amount @ 9% per annum from the date of filing of the complaint. An appeal filed by the Company challenging the said order of Forum was dismissed by Rajasthan State Commission. Aggrieved by the orders, Insurance Company filed a revision Petition before NCDRC. In the other case the complainant purchased a vehicle and got the same insured with the New India Assurance Company Ltd. for the period from 16.01.2009 to 15.01.2010. The aforesaid vehicle was stolen on 28.09.2009, and could not be traced. An FIR was registered by the police on 06.11.2009 but the intimation of the theft to the insurance company was given on 09.11.2009, after delay of 41 days. Since no claim was paid to him, the complainant approached the concerned District Forum by way of a complaint. It was claimed by the insurance company that the complainant had contravened the terms and conditions of the policy by not lodging the FIR and not intimating them immediately after the occurrence. The District Forum dismissed the complaint and the concerned State Commission also dismissed an appeal in the matter, hence, the complainant filed revision petition. After perusal of material on record and hearing the parties, NCDRC decided in favor of insurance companies and noted, “The insured was under a contractual obligation to intimate the theft of the vehicle to the insurer immediately after the said theft came to his knowledge and mere intimating the police or lodging an FIR does not amount to sufficient compliance with the terms and conditions of the insurance policy. Since admittedly, there was substantial delay in intimating the theft of the vehicle to the insurance company in both these cases, the insurer was entitled to repudiate the claim on account of the aforesaid default on the part of the insured.” [Reliance General Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Jai Prakash, 2016 SCC OnLine NCDRC 20, decided on January 11, 2016]

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