De­layed FIR can­not be ba­sis for re­ject­ing claim, says court

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De­lay in lodg­ing an FIR for stolen prop­erty can­not be grounds for an in­sur­ance firm to re­ject the claim of its pol­i­cy­holder, a con­sumer court in Pune has ruled. The court di­rected an in­sur­ance firm to pay a pol­i­cy­holder Rs 1.48 lakh with in­ter­est at the rate of 9 per cent from the date when his ve­hi­cle was stolen and Rs 2,000 to cover lit­i­ga­tion costs. The firm was told to pay the amount within six weeks from the date of re­ceipt of the court’s or­der.

On Jan­uary 14, the com­plainant moved a fresh plea be­fore the ad­di­tional dis­trict con­sumer dis­putes re­dres­sal fo­rum, stat­ing that the firm had not paid him the amount even af­ter the six weeks’ time given by the fo­rum, nor has it moved an ap­peal be­fore the state con­sumer fo­rum against the or­der. He called for ap­pro­pri­ate ac­tion against the in­sur­ance firm and fresh dam­ages for not ex­e­cut­ing the or­der.

The fo­rum said that in a case in­volv­ing an in­sur­ance claim for a stolen car, po­lice take time in lodg­ing an FIR in the hope that the com­plainant might get back his ve­hi­cle if a proper search is car­ried out in the vicin­ity where the theft has oc­curred. “It is only af­ter all hopes of trac­ing the ve­hi­cle re­cede that the po­lice lodge the FIR. The com­mon cit­i­zen prefers go­ing by the po­lice’s ad­vice rather than in­sist­ing on the FIR,” the fo­rum, com­pris­ing pres­i­dent Anjali Desh­mukh and SK Pacharne, ob­served.

“Cases like th­ese have come up be­fore the fo­rum many times in the past. It is not cor­rect to say that pol­icy terms and con­di­tions are vi­o­lated be­cause of the de­lay in lodg­ing the FIR,” the fo­rum said.

Com­plainant Sachin B Saste, pro­pri­etor of a tours and travel firm in Chinch­wad, had moved the fo­rum on 9 April 2014, chal­leng­ing a com­mu­ni­ca­tion by ICICI Lom­bard Gen­eral In­sur­ance Com­pany re­ject­ing his in­sur­ance claim. The firm had cited a six-day de­lay in lodg­ing an FIR and eight days’ de­lay in in­form­ing the com­pany about the theft as rea­sons for re­ject­ing the claim. It said that the de­lay vi­o­lated the pol­icy terms and con­di­tions. How­ever, the fo­rum ruled that the in­sured ve­hi­cle was stolen dur­ing the pe­riod when the pol­icy was ac­tive. The com­plainant had promptly alerted the po­lice con­trol room on the day of the theft and had vis­ited the po­lice sta­tion thrice to lodge an FIR.

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