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Forum orders ICICI Lombard to pay Rs. 5 lakh compensation

The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum here has pulled up ICICI Lombard Motor Insurance for indulging in “unfair trade practices” and asked it to pay a compensation of Rs 5 lakh to a complainant.

In their order, Forum president Umesh Jhawalikar and member ND Kadam observed that the bank’s insurance wing was deficient in its services as it totally rejected the insurance claim when it could have sanctioned a partial amount.

The claimant Gopalakrishnan Nair told the Forum that he had a valid insurance with the company for the period November 9, 2006 to November 8, 2007 for a sum of Rs 3,88,800 for his car Opel Corsa.

The complainant informed the Forum that his car met with an accident at Turbhe on December 8, 2006 and he had promptly registered an offence with the APMC police station and a ‘panchnama’ of the accident site was also carried out.

The vehicle was later taken to the Fort Point automobiles for repairs. After the survey, a claim for the accident was lodged with the insurer within the stipulated period, he told the Forum.

However, the insurer refused to accept his claim and settle it as per the guidelines of IRDA and within the stipulated period as a result of which he had to make use of another vehicle for his travel and pay charges to the garage as the car was still parked in the Fort Point premises.

Thus Nair lodged a claim of Rs 5,62,350 which included the insurance claim amount, charges for parking his car at the garage which was Rs 35,550 and also expenses for usage of other vehicle for commuting and other expenses which totaled upto Rs 1,34,000.

The respondent insurance company, while arguing the case, informed the Forum that as per experts’ opinion of the company after survey of the damaged vehicle, there was no necessity to change the bodyshell of the car.

However, the claimant had carried out an independent survey in which the expert had opined otherwise. This was the matter of dispute which delayed the process, the insurance company informed the Forum in its submission.

As per IRDA guidelines, the bank should have made 75 percent of the eligible amount to the claimant within the stipulated time which it did not do as a result of which the insured had to park his car in the garage for which he incurred additional expenses on parking and also had to make use of other means of transport for commuting, pending repair.

The complainant had promptly taken all steps including complaint to the APMC police station, getting the panchnama done, getting inspection done by an expert, and also filed the claim within the stipulated period along with all relevant documents, as per IRDA guidelines and the Indian Motor Tariff, the Forum observed.

The Forum further said it was necessary that the insurance company should have sanctioned the claim within the stipulated time. Likewise, it was justified that the insurance company ought to have sanctioned up to 75% of the insured amount by taking into consideration prevailing circumstances and the documents.

The insurance company, however rejected the claim on two counts. One there was no need to change the body shell and another the original repair bill was not presented by the claimant.

As the respondent was the service provider for the complainant, it was duty bound to sanction his claim up to the eligible sum which was justified. It could have sanctioned the claim even by deducting the charges of the body shell within the stipulated time, which it failed do.

Hence, it is held that it had indulged in unfair trade practices, the Forum said.

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