Vehicle insurance can be claimed even after ownership change: Court

November 21st, 2008 - 12:21 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 21 (IANS) A consumer court has ruled that the owner of a vehicle has rightful claim to the insurance money even if there is a change of ownership of the vehicle after the loss.Delhi State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, headed by Justice J.D. Kapoor, dismissed an appeal filed by New India Insurance Co Ltd challenging the district forum order of paying an owner Rs.360,000 along with Rs.10,000 as compensation for mental agony and harassment and Rs.2,000 as cost of litigation, after the insurance company had rejected the claim.

The case relates to Jaswant Singh, who was declined the insurance money, as the firm had insured the vehicle as a commercial vehicle, but it had become a personal vehicle after the sale.

It said the change of user had not been endorsed in the policy document, nor was the company informed.

Jaswant then moved the district forum which asked the insurance company to compensate him.

However, the company challenged the order in the state consumer forum stating that the premium to insure a private vehicle is much higher than a commercial one, so change of user plays a vital role in claiming the policy in case of theft of the vehicle.

Justice Kapoor re jectedthe company’s contention and said: “Even if we accept that somehow or the other the company was not intimated about the change of user (category) or change of ownership, still the claim of the respondent was a rightful claim.

“It is a universal rule of interpretation of a contract of beneficial nature like insurance contract or the beneficial legislation that every term and provision should be provided and receive a beneficial interpretation and if there are more than two interpretations possible, the interpretation which goes in favour of a consumer should be acted and relied upon.”

The court said the letters by the consumer clearly indicated that he had informed the company about the change of ownership, but the company refused to accept the change, stating that the insurance was in the name of Singh and not in the name of his firm.

Singh said as sole proprietor of the firm he could claim the insurance as all valid procedures including the registration of a first information report (FIR) was done without fail.

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