Con­sumer fo­rum pulls up in­sur­ance com­pany for il­log­i­cal rea­son­ing

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Leav­ing the ig­ni­tion key in­ad­ver­tently with an in­sured mo­tor­cy­cle stolen from a paid park­ing lot can­not be ground for an in­sur­ance com­pany to re­ject the claim against ve­hi­cle theft, the Pune district con­sumer court has ruled.

The bench of VP Ut­pat, OG Patil and Kshi­tija Kulka­rni di­rected the ICICI Lom­bard Gen­eral In­sur­ance Com­pany and the park­ing lot owner, Sachin Son­a­vane, to jointly re­fund Rs 31,556 (the in­sured de­clared value of the ve­hi­cle) and pay Rs 5,000 com­pen­sa­tion to Aundh res­i­dent Prakash K Shinde for caus­ing de­fi­ciency in ser­vice.

Shinde’s mo­tor­cy­cle was stolen from the paid park­ing lot of the fa­mous Khan­doba tem­ple in Je­juri near Pune on 4 Au­gust 2013. Shinde had lodged an FIR with the po­lice re­lat­ing to the theft and had in­formed the in­sur­ance com­pany about the in­ci­dent on phone. The po­lice had filed an ‘A’ sum­mary re­port, mean­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions pend­ing for want of sus­pects who could not be iden­ti­fied in the case. Later, the in­sur­ance com­pany re­jected Shinde’s claim.

Cit­ing po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tions, the in­sur­ance com­pany had ar­gued that the com­plainant, by leav­ing the ig­ni­tion key with the mo­tor­cy­cle, had vi­o­lated a key pol­icy con­di­tion that re­quired him to take all rea­son­able steps to safe­guard the ve­hi­cle from loss or dam­age.

The bench, how­ever, ob­served that the com­plainant did safe­guard his ve­hi­cle by park­ing the same in a paid park­ing lot un­der cus­tody of the park­ing lot owner and hence could not be said to have acted neg­li­gently merely for leav­ing the ig­ni­tion key with the ve­hi­cle.

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