Chittoor Consumer Forum asks ICICI to pay Rs 7 lakh compensation in vehicle insurance case

Hyderabad: A Consumer Forum in Chittoor, Tirupathi, ordered ICICI bank to pay a compensation of Rs 734,026 to a complainant in an insurance case. The complainant, Ms Lekkala Manju Bhargavi, purchased a Mahindra car and insured it with ICICI Lombard General Insurance for one year, commencing from August 12, 2016, to August 11, 2017.

While the policy was in force, the car met with an accident on May 11, 2017, at about 1.40 pm near Surutupalle. To avoid fatalities, the driver steered the vehicle, and in that process, lost control over the car. The vehicle hit a roadside pillar, resulting in damage of the front portion of the car beyond repairs.

The complainant intimated the accident over the phone to opposite parties (ICICI) and entrusted the vehicle to driver T Surendra Reddy. The officials of the opposite parties visited the scene of offence and made enquires and collected photographs, and directed the complainant to shift the vehicle to its authorised service centre at Tirupathi.

The service centre estimated the damages to a tune of Rs 734,026 and intimated it to Lekkala Manju Bhargavi, who then brought it to the notice of the opposite parties. She requested them to process the claim submitted by her. However, according to the complainant, ICICI officials refused the claim, mentioning that there is no insurable interest between the complainant and the opposite parties. The insurance company claimed the vehicle was sold and vehicle RC and policy were yet to be transferred.

Refuting ICICI’s claims, Bhargavi submitted documents that proved that she is the current owner of the vehicle and that she had never sold it to anyone. The opposite parties never responded in spite of repeated requests made personally and over the phone. Left with no option, she filed a complaint with the Consumer Forum, claiming Rs 734,026 with interest at 24% per annum. Besides, she also claimed for Rs 100,000 towards deficiency in service and another Rs 100,000 towards unfair trade practice and litigation costs.

This complaint elicited a reaction from ICICI, who noted that their officers reported that the assessed damages amount to only Rs 323,771 and not Rs 734,026. “Since the complainant has no insurable interest, the claim was repudiated. There is no question of indulging in unfair trade practice by the opposite parties,” they added.

Considering the two sides, the Consumer Forum made a verdict in favour of the complainant. It noted, “The question of no insurable interest between the complainant and opposite parties does not arise. The opposite parties indulged in unfair trade practice in repudiating her claim on false ground. The opposite parties failed to settle the claim in spite of repeated oral demands and written requests, and unjustifiably repudiated her claim.”

The forum further directed the opposite parties to pay Rs 734,026 towards the cost of repairs, Rs 5,000 towards compensation due to deficiency in service, and Rs 3,000 towards unfair trade practices and litigation costs.

Dheeshma Puzhakkal

Dheeshma Puzhakkal is currently a Reporter with Newsmeter. An alumnus of Hyderabad Central University, she has interned with Greater Kashmir newspaper and NDTV. Dheeshma has also made short films and documentaries. Her documentary ‘Still I Rise’, which is based on sex-trafficking in Hyderabad’s Old City, has earned accolades in several film festivals, such as International Documentary and Short Film Festival, Kerala (IDSFFK). An avid foodie, she loves to travel and listen to stories that others tell. Photography is one of her all-time interests. She has extensively written on satellite-based journalism, health, consumer, and data stories besides covering anti-crime investigative agencies.

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