Insurance firms denial claims irk consumer court

New Delhi: Irked by insurance firms` general tendency to deny customers their rightful claims, a Delhi district consumer forum has ordered five insurance companies to pay compensation ranging from Rs 15,000 to 60,000 to five of their customers on separate complaints.

"Insurance is becoming a very lucrative business now. On one hand the insurance companies are marketing their products in most aggressive manner, promising to indemnify the insured on the happening or not of the proposed event. But when it comes to payment of claims set up by the insured, there is a tendency to deprive the insured of the same by repudiating the same on one pretext or the other," the forum said in the opening lines of its judgement dealing with six separate consumer complaints.

A Delhi District Consumers Disputes Redressal Forum presided by Rakesh Kapoor directed Reliance General Insurance Co ltd to pay Rs 6.6 lakh to Delhi resident A K Dutt with Rs 6 lakh being the claim amount and Rs 60,000 being the litigation cost and the compensation to the customer for the "mental and physical agony" suffered by him due to denial of his claim by the insurance firm.

Dutt had complained that the company had denied his claim for his stolen car in 2008.
On another complaint regarding vehicle insurance, the forum pulled up Oriental Insurance Company Ltd for ignoring a report of its surveyor and instead appointing second surveyor.

"Coming to the facts of the case in hand, it has to be noted that Oriental Insurance Company appointed a second surveyor only because, according to it, the report submitted by the first surveyor was on a higher side," it said.

"It appears to us that the company had resorted to the appointment of the second surveyor in order to get a report which was tailor made to the liking of its officers," it said while directing the company to pay Rs 37,000 to its customer with Rs 15,000 out of the sum as compensation for "harassment" and litigation cost.

On another complaint relating to health insurance, the forum ordered Reliance General Insurance Co Ltd to pay Rs 35,000 as compensation to one of its customers, while asking the insurance firm to settle his claim of around Rs 22,000.

Similarly, in two other cases, the forum directed New India Assurance Co Ltd and the Oriental Insurance Company Ltd to pay Rs 35,000 and Rs 40,000 respectively as compensation to their customers relating to vehicle insurance.

The forum, however, dismissed one of the six complaints, that by a trader alleging non payment of claims for theft in his shop.

The complaint was dismissed as it had been filed too late to meet the statutory deadline for filing it. For a theft committed in 2005 in his shop, the trader had moved the consumer court in 2009.

The forum while dealing with the six complaints said "courts have on a number of occasions impressed upon the officers of the insurance companies, who deal with the claims, to act in a manner that it serves the purpose of insurance contracts between the parties".