Repudiation of claim upheld as complainant failed to take reasonable steps to safeguard vehicle

National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC): NCDRC has upheld the repudiation of claim by the insurance company in a case of theft of vehicle on the ground that respondent was not having valid driving licence at the time of incident and he had also not taken ignition keys of the car when he went for urination, hence violating the terms of policy. Earlier, the respondent’s insured jeep was stolen when he left keys in the vehicle while he went to relive himself. The insurance claim was rejected by the insurance company on the ground that respondent was not having valid driving licence, permit at the time of incident and he also left keys of the vehicle in car when he went for urination.. Alleging deficiency on the part of insurance company, respondent approached District forum, which allowed the complaint and directed insurance company to pay insured amount with 6% p.a. interest along with cost of Rs.500. Appeal filed by insurance company was partly allowed by State Commission and amount was reduced to 75%, i.e., Rs.2,19,102 against which, revision petition was filed by the insurance company before NCDRC. The Commission, after perusal of documents and hearing both the parties, observed that insured vehicle was Maxi Cab for which fitness certificate was obtained by the owner and insurance policy issued by insurance company was also “for passengers carrying commercial vehicle” whereas licence of respondent was only for light motor vehicle. NCDRC further observed that it was violation of policy conditions as “once respondent was driving transport vehicle whether it was carrying passengers at the time of incident on hire or not, is immaterial and he could not have driven vehicle without endorsement of transport vehicle on his driving licence.” While placing reliance on various earlier judgments of National Commission regarding importance of reasonable steps to safeguard the vehicle, NCDRC noted that “Investigator’s report reveals that respondent allowed four unknown persons in the vehicle and respondent stopped vehicle to go to urinate leaving the keys in the jeep and when he was urinating on the side of the road, the persons sitting in the vehicle ran away with the jeep. Thus, it becomes clear that respondent left ignition keys in the vehicle along with four unknown persons while going for easing and thus, committed violation of Condition No. 5 of the policy for taking reasonable steps to safeguard the vehicle.” While holding that the respondent had violated the conditions of the policy, NCDRC allowed the revision petition and upheld the repudiation of the claim by the insurance company. (National Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Ram Singh Gurjar, 2015 SCC OnLine NCDRC 2291, decided on 18-9-2015)

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