Repudiation of claim upheld as complainant failed to take reasonable steps to safeguard vehicle

National
Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC): NCDRC has upheld the
repudiation of claim by the insurance company in a case of theft of vehicle on
the ground that respondent was not having valid driving licence at the time of
incident and he had also not taken ignition keys of the car when he went for
urination, hence violating the terms of policy. Earlier, the respondent’s insured
jeep was stolen when he left keys in the vehicle while he went to relive
himself. The insurance claim was rejected by the insurance company on the
ground that respondent was not having valid driving licence, permit at the time
of incident and he also left keys of the vehicle in car when he went for
urination.. Alleging deficiency on the part of insurance company, respondent approached
District forum, which allowed the complaint and directed insurance company to
pay insured amount with 6% p.a. interest along with cost of Rs.500. Appeal
filed by insurance company was partly allowed by State Commission and amount
was reduced to 75%, i.e., Rs.2,19,102 against which, revision petition was
filed by the insurance company before NCDRC. The Commission, after perusal of
documents and hearing both the parties, observed that insured vehicle was Maxi
Cab for which fitness certificate was obtained by the owner and insurance
policy issued by insurance company was also “for passengers carrying commercial
vehicle” whereas licence of respondent was only for light motor vehicle. NCDRC
further observed that it was violation of policy conditions as “once respondent
was driving transport vehicle whether it was carrying passengers at the time of
incident on hire or not, is immaterial and he could not have driven vehicle
without endorsement of transport vehicle on his driving licence.” While placing
reliance on various earlier judgments of National Commission regarding
importance of reasonable steps to safeguard the vehicle, NCDRC noted that
“Investigator’s report reveals that respondent allowed four unknown persons in
the vehicle and respondent stopped vehicle to go to urinate leaving the keys in
the jeep and when he was urinating on the side of the road, the persons sitting
in the vehicle ran away with the jeep. Thus, it becomes clear that respondent
left ignition keys in the vehicle along with four unknown persons while going
for easing and thus, committed violation of Condition No. 5 of the policy for
taking reasonable steps to safeguard the vehicle.” While holding that the respondent
had violated the conditions of the policy, NCDRC allowed the revision petition
and upheld the repudiation of the claim by the insurance company. (National
Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Ram Singh Gurjar, 2015 SCC OnLine NCDRC 2291, decided on 18-9-2015)
Source: Legal news India

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