The three-judge bench of Supreme Court consisting of Justice N.V.Ramana, Justice R. Subhash Reddy and Justice B.R.Gavai in the case of Gurshinder Singh Vs. Shriram General Insurance Co. Ltd & Anr. stated that mere delay in intimating the insurance company about the occurrence of the theft cannot be a ground to deny the claim of the insured.
In the present case, the Appellant (insured) has bought an insurance policy from the Respondent (Insurance company) on 19/6/2010. On 28/10/2010 the tractor was stolen and a FIR was lodged on the same day. However, the claim was submitted to the Respondent(s) on 15.12.2010. The claim of the Appellant was rejected on the ground that intimation of the incident was given belatedly after 52 days. Due to this action of the Insurance Company, the Appellant filed a complaint in the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Jalandhar, Punjab and the district forum has awarded the claim amount to the Appellants. Thereafter, the Insurance company made a appeal to the State Commission but the commission dismiss the appeal and therefore an appeal was made to the National Commission. The National Commission relaying on its earlier judgement made in the case of New India Assurance Co. Ltd. vs. Trilochan Jane set aside the order the orders of the District Forum as well as the State Commission and dismissed the complaint. Aggrieved by this order of the National Commission an appeal was made to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court in the present case, has analysed the two contravening judgements given on the same issue. Although, in the case of Om Prakash vs. Reliance General Insurance & Anr. the court took the view that “delay in informing the insurance company would not debar the insured to get the insurance claim.” But contrary to this view, in the case of Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd. vs. Parvesh Chander Chadha, the court took the view that due to the delay of intimating the insurance company of the theft of the vehicle even though an FIR was filed, the insurance company can repudiate the claim. After analysing both the judgements carefully, the court has agreed with the reasoning given in the Om Prakash (supra) and stated that, “We concur with the view taken in the case of Om Prakash (supra), that in such a situation if the claimant is denied the claim merely on the ground that there is some delay in intimating the insurance company about the occurrence of the theft, it would be taking a hyper technical view. We find, that this Court in Om Prakash (supra) has rightly held that it would not be fair and reasonable to reject genuine claims which had already been verified and found to be correct by the investigator.” Also, it is stated that, “when an insured has lodged the FIR immediately after the theft of a vehicle occurred and when the police after investigation have lodged a final report after the vehicle was not traced and when the surveyors/investigators appointed by the insurance company have found the claim of the theft to be genuine, then mere delay in intimating the insurance company about the occurrence of the theft cannot be a ground to deny the claim of the insured.” Therefore, the order given by the National Commission is quashed and the order given by the District Forum is upheld.
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Link to judgment: Gurshinder Singh v. Shriram General Insurance Co.