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Don't touch accident vehicle until inspection

Jehangir B Gai / 17 Nov 16 | 05:58 AM

It might sometimes happen that damage due to an accident appears to be minor and not worth lodging an insurance claim for. However, the real extent of damage may be realised only after the vehicle is opened for inspection. In such a case, the insurance company can refuse to settle a claim as the surveyor did not get the opportunity to inspect the condition of the vehicle when the accident occurred. Here is a case of how a consumer had to suffer a loss due to his own hasty actions.

Ghanshyam Maurya had purchased an Escorts tractor from Tractor Dealer Farm Equipment and Machinery. It was covered under a one-year warranty from September 10, 1992, its purchase date. The tractor met with an accident. It was then taken to the authorised repair workshop and an estimate for repairs was sought. The insurance company was also intimated.

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Maurya filed before the District Forum that the tractor suffered from various manufacturing defects. He alleged that he had taken the tractor to the authorised workshop several times, but these defects could not be removed. So he sought a replacement and compensation for harassment.

The complaint was contested by the dealer as well as the manufacturer. It was pointed out that the warranty was for one year during which period the company would either repair it or replace any defective components.

The tractor had met with an accident for which it was taken to the workshop which gave a repair estimate of Rs 25,000. The insurance surveyor recommended a repudiation of the claim as Maurya had instructed the tractor to be opened up for getting the repair estimate prior to its inspection by the surveyor. Since the insurance company refused to settle the claim, it was alleged that he filed a false complaint alleging manufacturing defect.

The Forum allowed the complaint and ordered a replacement of the tractor, or alternatively, refund of its price of Rs 1, 71,980, along with interest, compensation and costs. This order was challenged before the Uttar Pradesh State Commission, but the appeal was dismissed.

The dealer then filed a revision petition. The National Commission observed that Maurya had not produced any evidence or produced any expert opinion to establish a manufacturing defect in the tractor. He was also unable to produce the job cards or other documentary proof to show that the tractor was repeatedly taken to the workshop for repairs. On the contrary, the documents showed that the tractor was taken periodically for free servicing during the warranty period and not for any defect.

The National Commission concluded that Maurya had filed a complaint and made false allegations about a manufacturing defect when there was none, merely because the insurance company had rejected his claim, and that too for his own fault of getting the tractor opened prior to inspection by the surveyor.

Accordingly, by its order of November 2, 2016, delivered by V K Jain, the National Commission set aside the orders of the lower fora and dismissed Maurya's complaint.

A consumer must not act in haste. He must wait for the vehicle to be first inspected by the surveyor.

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