This revision petition has been filed by the petitioner Shriram General Insurance Co. Ltd. against the order dated 21st July 2015 passed in First Appeal No. 1459 of 2014 by the Punjab State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission Chandigarh (in short the ‘State Commission’).
2. Brief facts of the case are that the respondent complainant got insured his Tata safari vehicle bearing registration No. PB 10 CE 0 564 with the petitioner insurance company vide policy No. 10004/31/12/042652 and the insurance was valid from 15th February 2012 to 14th February 2013. The complainant’s vehicle met with an accident while being driven by the driver due to burst of tyre and vehicle collided with a tree at 2:00 p.m. on 16th May 2012 and vehicle got damaged heavily. It is the case of the petitioner that the insurance company was informed only on 31st May 2012 when the claim form was submitted. The insurance company appointed a surveyor who surveyed the vehicle in the workshop and assessed the net loss of Rs.2,11,329/- vide his report dated 25th July 2012. However, the petitioner Insurance Company vide their letter dated 4th August 2012 repudiated the claim on the ground that there was a delay of 15 days in giving intimation to the petitioner and this was a violation of the terms and conditions of the policy. The respondent complainant submitted his representation to the insurance company and the same was also dismissed by their letter dated 23rd February 2013 on the ground of delayed information to the petitioner company as well as on the ground of misrepresentation. The complainant being aggrieved by the repudiation of the claim filed a consumer complaint No. 272 of 2013 before the District Forum Amritsar (in short the District Forum).The complaint was resisted by the petitioner insurance company by filing the written statement and reiterating the same grounds as mentioned in the repudiation letter. After consideration of the matter, the District Forum vide their order dated 10th September 2014 dismissed the complaint. Aggrieved by the dismissal of the complaint, the complainant preferred an appeal before the State Commission being appeal No. 1459 of 2014. The State Commission vide their order dated 29th April 2015 proceeded ex-parte against the petitioner insurance company on the basis of section 28 of the Consumer Protection Act 1986 when neither the notice nor the AD card was received back within 30 days from the date of dispatch of the notice. Finally the State Commission allowed the appeal of the complainant vide its order dated 21st July 2015 and directed the insurance company to pay the amount of Rs.2,11,329 along with interest at the rate 12% per annum from the date of lodging the claim i.e. from 26th May 2012 till the date of payment to the complainant along with cost of Rs.5,000.
3. Hence the present revision petition.
4. Heard the learned counsel for the petitioner as none appeared on behalf of the respondent complainant even after service of the notice. The learned counsel for the petitioner stated that the accident took place on 16th May 2012 but the intimation to the insurance company was given on 31st May 2012. Thus, there is a delay of 15 days in giving the notice to the insurance company which is violation of condition No.1 of the insurance policy which requires that immediate notice should be given to the insurance company. The learned counsel further stated that the case does not seem to be genuine as no FIR has been lodged even though the accident has been stated to be devastating and the total loss has been claimed. It was further argued by the learned counsel that even the vehicle that was produced before the surveyor in the workshop where it was being repaired, was not the same vehicle which was inspected before the insurance for giving the insurance. As the basic condition of giving immediate intimation to the insurance company has been violated, the claim cannot be entertained by the insurance company and the claim has been repudiated as per the conditions of the policy.
5. I have carefully considered the arguments advanced by the learned counsel for the petitioner and I have examined the material on record. Coming first to the objection of the insurance company that the vehicle which was shown to the surveyor for assessment was a different vehicle than that submitted for pre-insurance inspection, it is seen that the State Commission has dealt with this issue in the following manner:-
“In respect of the second ground, on which the claim of the complainant was repudiated, there is bald statement of Vishal Gupta, Assistant Manager, made in his affidavit Ex.OP1. He deposed that the vehicle produced by the complainant for insurance at the time of pre-inspection photograph was completely different from the accidental vehicle. The Photostat copies of the photographs were proved on the record as Ex.OP13 and Ex.OP14. It may be said that these were the photographs, which were taken at the time of pre-inspection of the vehicle for the purposes of insurance. However, there is no photograph of the accidental vehicle proved on the record by the opposite party and in the absence thereof and merely on the above said bald statement of the Assistant Manager, it cannot be concluded that the vehicle produced at the time of insurance was not the same, which was involved in the accident. The engine number and chassis number were mentioned as 730570 and 16960, respectively, in the insurance policy Ex.C-8/Ex.OP2. Those very numbers were mentioned in the proposal form Ex.OP10, which was filled up at the time the complainant applied for obtaining the insurance policy. The person who effected the insurance policy must have compared those numbers with the numbers, as engraved on the engine and chassis of the vehicle. Before issuance of the Insurance Policy, Cover Note Ex.OP11 was issued and the same engine number and chassis number are mentioned therein. The Surveyor at the time of inspection noted down the engine and chassis numbers of the vehicle which had met with an accident, as is clear from his report Ex.OP-6. He entered those numbers in that report. These are the same engine and chassis numbers, which are so mentioned in the insurance policy. In all these circumstances, it cannot be concluded that the vehicle produced by the complainant at the time of pre-inspection before obtaining the insurance policy was different from the vehicle which had met with the accident. Therefore, the opposite party could not have repudiated his claim on that ground.”
6. From the above, it is clear that this issue has been thoroughly discussed and examined by the State Commission and a vehicle has to be recognized by its engine No. and Chassis No. and the surveyor has assessed the same vehicle which has the engine No. and Chassis No. as mentioned in the policy. Thus, this objection of the insurance company is not sustainable.
7. So far as the objection of the insurance company for late intimation is concerned, the State Commission has observed the following in this regard:-
“9. According to the opposite party, this intimation was given to it by the complainant on 31.5.2012. On that aspect of the case it stands contradicted by the report of Rohit Kapoor, Surveyor and Loss Assessor Ex.OP6. In that report he mentioned at serial No.8 that the request for the survey was received on 28.5.2012 and he had surveyed this vehicle on the same day. When the request had been made to him for survey on 28.5.2012, then how it can be believed that the contention of the opposite party that the intimation was given to it on 31.5.2012 is correct. There was no question of the appointment of the surveyor by it before the receipt of that intimation. Thus, it stands proved that the intimation was given to it by the complainant much before 28.5.2012.
10. The opposite party proved on record the Motor Insurance Claim Form Ex.OP15, which is purported to have been submitted by the complainant. As is clear from that Form, it was signed by the complainant on 26.5.2012. It is not the case of the opposite party that the claim was submitted by the complainant simultaneously with the giving of the intimation to it. Thus, the intimation must have been given by the complainant before the said date. In these circumstances the opposite party was not justified in repudiating his claim on the ground of delay in giving intimation about the loss caused to the vehicle in the accident.”
8. From the above observation of the State Commission, one thing is clear that the intimation may not have been given on 31st May 2012 rather it was given slightly earlier. The claim form is signed on 26th May 2012 and on this basis, the State Commission has presumed that intimation to the insurance company may have been given earlier than this date. This presumption of the State Commission may not hold good as nothing is mentioned in the order of the State Commission as to what has been claimed by the complainant in this regard. What is the version of the complainant in respect of giving intimation to the insurance company is not clear as there is nothing in writing in this respect. In such cases generally insurance companies appoint surveyors immediately as soon as they get the information. In this case, the surveyor himself has stated that he was appointed on 28th May 2012. If one connects all the facts mentioned in the order of the State Commission, one of the obvious chronology may be that the claim was signed on 26th May 2012 and the same was submitted to the insurance company and then the insurance company appointed the surveyor on 28th May 2012. The complainant in the complaint has mentioned the following:-
“2. That on 14.5.2012 while Nishan Singh son Sh. Chandchal Singh r/o VPO Chak Walia, tehsil Patti, Distt. Tarn Taran was driving the aforesaid insured vehicle, the tyre of the said vehicle all of sudden got burst and as a result of which it struck against a tree at 2:00 pm and the said vehicle was totally damaged in the said accident. M/s. Arneja Automobiles, G.T.Road, Amritsar, authorized service centre of Tata Motors vide estimation report dated 26.5.2012 declared the said accidental vehicle as a totally damaged vehicle.
3. That as the vehicle of the complainant was duly insured with the opp. party, therefore, the complainant also reported the matter to the opp.party regarding total loss of the vehicle and also lodged his claim with the opp. party for settlement of his claim ……………………………………..”
9. From the above also, it is clear that once the repairer declared that it was a case of total loss on 26th May 2012, then the complainant informed the case of total loss to the insurance company. It is thus, clear that no information was given to the insurance company before 26th May 2012. Thus, clearly there is a delay in giving information to the insurance company and no reason has been assigned for this delay by the complainant. Clearly condition No.1 of the policy has been grossly violated. One has to distinguish between those persons who follow the rules and conditions of the policy and those who do not. Hon’ble Supreme Court in Amalendu Sahoo Vs. Oriental Insurance Company Limited, (2010) 4 SCC 536 has observed that if certain condition of a motor policy is violated, then the claim may be settled on non-standard basis i.e. up to 75% of the otherwise admissible claim. I am of the view that the claim should be settled on non-standard basis in the p
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resent case. 10. It is further seen that the State Commission has allowed a very high rate of interest on the insurance amount and that too from the date of lodging the claim. In such cases, generally the interest is allowed from the date of filing of the complaint and not from the lodging of the claim. In the facts and circumstances of the case and keeping the current interest scenario in view, I deem it appropriate to modify the rate of interest from 12% per annum to 6% per annum and that too from the date of filing of the complaint i.e. from 9th April 2013. 11. Based on the above discussion, the revision petition No. 590 of 2016 is partly allowed and the order of the State Commission dated 21st July 2015 is modified to the extent that the petitioner insurance company shall be liable to pay only Rs.1,58,496/- (rupees one lakhs fifty eight thousand four hundred ninety six only) which is 75% of Rs.2,11,329/- instead of Rs.2,11,329/- as allowed by the State Commission. This amount will be payable with interest at the rate of 6% per annum from the date of filing of the complaint i.e. from 9th April 2013 till actual payment. The order be complied by the petitioner insurance company within a period of 45 days from the date of receipt of this order.