Lately, we have been witnessing numerous cases where individuals approach consumer courts to address their grievances. In most instances, we observe the court ruling in favor of the customer. Here is another case from Surat, where the consumer court has instructed a private insurer to purchase a brand-new Maruti Ertiga for a man. This comes after the insurance company rejected the customer’s Rs 11 lakh claim following an accident involving his car a few years ago.
The case dates back a few years. The customer, Divyesh Tandel, a resident of Navsari, had insured his Maruti Ertiga MPV with a private insurance company. The car was insured for one year, starting from August 29, 2021. On June 13, 2022, the customer took his friend, Ankit Khunt, and two others on a road trip to Ambaji, a religious place. Unfortunately, the car collided with a dumper truck near Kheralu during the trip, resulting in a major accident that claimed the lives of two occupants.
An FIR was filed in Kheralu the next day. After the accident, the customer notified the insurance company, and a claim request was registered. The insurance company then took the car to the nearest authorized service center. During the inspection at the service center, the customer was provided with an estimate of Rs 11.08 lakh for repairs. Simultaneously, an investigator from the insurance company arrived at the service center for inspection.
The insurance company’s staff somehow persuaded the customer’s friend, Khunt, to give a statement claiming that he had rented the car from the customer on a rupee-per-km basis. Mr. Khunt was convinced that this statement would expedite the claim process. However, after giving the statement, Khunt realized it was a ploy to get his claim rejected. The customer and his friends consulted experts, confirmed the deception, tore the statement, but the insurance company executive had already taken a photo of it.
In November 2022, the insurance company rejected the claim based on Mr. Khunt’s statement, stating that the claim is rejected if the owner rents out the vehicle, as per company policy. Following this incident, Mr. Tandel filed a complaint against the insurance company with the Navsari Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (CDRC). In his complaint, he asserted that the car was never rented out, and he took his friends on a road trip. The customer also submitted his friend’s affidavit to the consumer court, clearly stating that no money was exchanged, and the car was not hired.
To counter these claims, the insurance company produced a copy of Ankit Khunt’s statement. However, they failed to produce the original copy in front of the court. Khunt mentioned in his affidavit that the investigator had told him to sign the statement, claiming that the car was hired. They also mentioned that the original statement was torn after realizing it was a trap.
It was also noted that the car was a total loss, and the customer is entitled to receive a brand-new car with all taxes paid. The consumer court stated, “The company has adopted illegal trade practices and also shown a deficiency in service.” The commission instructed the insurance company to provide the customer with a new car. If they fail to do so by February 20, the insurance firm should pay Rs 10.07 lakh with a 9 percent interest rate. Tandel was also directed to return the car to the insurance company, and failure to do so would mean he has to pay Rs 7.92 lakh with a 15 percent interest rate to the firm.