The complainants who are appellants in FA/685/2013 and respondent in FA/91/2014 obtained an insurance policy from the United India Insurance Co. Ltd. which is the respondent in FA/685/2013 and appellant in FA/91/2014, which covered the building of the complainants to the extent of Rs.45 lakhs, plant and machinery to the extent of Rs.20 lakhs and the stock of goods to the extent of Rs.35 lakhs. During subsistence of the insurance policy, the stock of Tuver Dal and Tuver Chuni kept in the mill of the complainants got damaged on 30.6.2005 due to heavy rain and flooding. On intimation being given to the insurer, R.M Sheth & Associates were appointed as the surveyors to assess the loss to the complainants. Vide their report dated 11.11.2005 they assessed the gross loss to the complainants at Rs.2645484.24. However, holding that there was under insurance to the extent of 76.65%, the surveyor recommended deduction of Rs.2025118.18 alongwith policy excess of Rs.31018.30 and recommended payment of Rs.589347.76. The said amount when offered by the insurer was not accepted by the complainants who approached the concerned State Commission by way of a consumer complaint, claiming that they had suffered loss to the extent of Rs.3311998/-.
2. The complaint was resisted by the insurer, primarily on the ground that there was huge under insurance and the surveyor had rightly assessed the value of the affected stock after making deduction on account of under insurance and policy excess.
3. The State Commission vide impugned order dated....directed the insurer to pay a sum of Rs.2645484/- to the complainants alongwith interest @ 6% p.a. from the date of the complaint, compensation quantified at Rs.25,000/- and the cost of litigation quantified at Rs.20,000/-.
4. Being aggrieved from the order passed by the State Commission, the insurer is before this Commission by way of FA/91/2014. Since the complainants are also dissatisfied with the compensation awarded to them by the State Commission, they are also before this Commission by way of FA/685/2013.
5. It is an admitted position that the stock kept in the mill of the complainants was insured only to the extent of Rs.35 lakhs. The case of the complainants is that they were keeping stocks valued at not more than Rs.35 lakhs in the mill whereas the rest of the stock was being stored by them in a godown which they had taken on rent from Mahalaxmi Pulse Mills.
6. On a perusal of the inspection report, I find that the surveyor had assessed the total value of the stock of the complainants at Rs.14929863/- on the basis of the stock register and the balance sheet of the previous years. The report of the surveyor shows that the balance of the stock was Rs.17235027.30 in the year 2004-05 and Rs.10979574/- in the year 2003-04. The complainants were not maintaining separate stock registers one in respect of the stock kept in the mill and the other in respect of the stock alleged to have been kept in the godown taken on rent.
7. The survey report does not indicate that the surveyor had physical counted the entire stock kept in the mill of the complainants and the quantity derived by it was based upon the said physical inspection. The survey report clearly shows that the quantity of the total stock was derived on the basis of the stock register and support from the balance sheet of the previous years was taken by the surveyor in making such an assessment.
8. In responds to the Questionnaire served upon him by the complainants, the surveyor clearly stated that he had not visited the rented godown for physical verification. He did not claim while responding to the Questionnaire that the total quantity of stock was assessed by him on the basis of the physical inspection and not on the basis of the stock register and the balance sheet of the previous years.
9. As per the report of the surveyor, when he visited the mill of the complainants, he found water level at 2 ft. from the floor level of the godown and he had counted physically the entire affected stock kept in the godown. He inspected Tuver Dal and Tuver Chuni kept in 3510 bags and the total quantity of the Tuver Dal and Tuver Chuni so inspected by him was found to be 1274 quintal and 497 quintal respectively. He, however, segregated the affected stock from the stock which had not been affected due to flood water and found that the quantity of the affected Tuver Dal was 1054.60 quintals and the quantity of the affected Tuver Chuni was 416.5 quintals. On the other hand, the total quantity of the stock as per the stock register was 175950 + 497 + 1275 + 298 + 12.60 + 3163.95 quintals. The surveyor does not even claim to have actually seen that much stock in the mill of the complainants. The inevitable inference would be that instead of physically counting the stock, he chose to assess the total quantity of the stock on the basis of the stock register alone.
10. This is the not the case of the complainants that as per the stock register, it was not having stock quantified by the surveyor. The case of the complainants is that the said stock had been kept at two places, part of the stock having been kept in the mill and the part having been kept in the godown taken on rent from Mahalaxmi Pulse Mills. The complainants did tell the surveyor that the remaining stock had been kept by them in the godown which they had taken on rent w.e.f. 1.4.2005. Despite that, the surveyor chose not to visit the godown at Mahalaxmi Pulse Mills to verify the quantity of the stock kept in the said godown.
11. The written synopsis filed by the complainants would show that they had filed before the State Commission the documents evidencing taking a godown on rent at Mahalaxmi Pulse Mills on Anand-Sojitra Road in Anand. They claim to have produced letters dt. 1.4.2005 and 27.9.2005 from Mahalaxmi Pulse Mills. They also claim that they had filed a copy of the rent note which they executed with Mahalaxmi Pulse Mills. Therefore, the surveyor, in my opinion, was not justified in making deduction on account of the alleged under insurance without he having physically found stock worth more than Rs.35 lakhs in the mill of the complainants. Therefore, the deduction on account of the alleged under insurance has rightly been disallowed by the State Commission.
12. As regards the appeal filed by the complainants who are disputing the assessment made by the surveyor with respect to the value of the affected stock, I find that though the complainants had claimed damage to the stock admeasuring 497 quintal of Tuver Chuni and 1274 quintal of Tuver Dal, the surveyor on the basis of physical inspection found that quantity actually affected due to floods was found to be 1054.6 quintal of Tuver Dal and 416.50 quintal of Tuver Chuni. He valued the said stock at Rs.2645484.24 on the basis of the rates given in an annexure to the report. The said annexure give all the required details including the applicable rates, freight, labour charges and processing charges. Therefore, the assessment made by the surveyor, in my opinion, cannot be disputed.
13. For the reasons stated hereinabove, I hold that the order passed by the State Commission after disallowing the under insurance w
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as justified except that the policy excess amounting to Rs.31018.30 is also required to be deducted from the amount awarded by the State Commission. The appeals are, therefore, disposed of with the following directions:- (i) The insurer shall pay a sum of Rs.2614465.94 (Rs.2645484.24 – Rs.31018.30) to the complainants alongwith interest at the rate awarded by the State Commission. (ii) The complainants shall also be entitled to the cost of litigation awarded by the State Commission but there is no justification for awarding compensation over and above the interest awarded to the complainants and therefore, the direction for payment of Rs.20,000/- as compensation is set aside. (iii) The payment in terms of this order shall be made within three months from today.