Friday, May 9, 2014

Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission upholds district forum’s order on United India Insurance to cough up claim it has been dodging for 4 years

GANGTOK, 08 May: The Sikkim State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has upheld the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum [East & North] judgment against United India Insurance Company Ltd which had been directed to make good its insurance cover for a building at Upper Sichey. The insurance company had appealed against the verdict, and in an order passed on 26 April, the SSCDRC, which has appellate jurisdiction in such matters, upheld the Forum’s award, and allowed a relaxation to the insurance company in that the grant of interest [on dues] fixed at 15% by the District Forum has been reduced to 10% [to be calculated from the date when the original complaint was lodged – 24 Oct 2010].
The judgment was pronounced by the Sikkim State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission coram comprising of Justice SP Wangdi of the High Court, who is also the president of the Commission and members – DT Bhutia and Geeta Gurung.
The case relates to TP Sharma’s claim with the insurance company. Mr. Sharma, it is informed, had a 3-storied building at Upper Sichey, Gangtok, which he had insured with United India Insurance Company Ltd. Seismic activity and sinking contributed to tilting the structure and leaving it hazardous for live in. This was in October 2010; Mr. Sharma had insured the building [under Uni Home Care Policy] in July 2006.
Court documents reveal that on 24 Oct 2010, Mr. Sharma verbally informed the insurance company of the damage suffered and on 25 Oct, made a written submission claiming insurance. It is learnt that along with Mr. Sharma’s, a neighbouring building belonging to one DP Pradhan had been brought to the brink of collapse by, what has now been established to be an illegal construction, of one Mahendra Gop.
The insurance company refused to entertain Mr. Sharma’s insurance claim arguing that the building was “destroyed” by a government order which was not among the grounds covered for insurance. The District Magistrate’s office, after an investigation into the extent of damage, had marked the building for demolition, it is learnt. The company also claimed delay on Mr. Sharma’s part in informing it of the damage.
The SSCDRC, in its order, points out that the building was imperiled by rains, earthquake and the construction of Mahendra Gop’s house. The appellate Commission also found no merit in the delay argument either and goes on to endorse the District Forum’s judgment in favour of Mr. Sharma. The insurance company had been directed to pay up the Rs. 20 lakh for which the building was insured.
The District Forum had also directed that interest at 15% be paid to Mr. Sharma calculated since the date that the claim was filed with the insurance company [24 Oct 2010]. This, the SSCDRC has reduced to 10%.

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