The NCDRC directed Cholamandalam General Insurance Company, to pay nine per cent interest on the policy amount to Tanushree Mondal for her stolen vehicle, from the date of intimation of the theft, rather than the date when she approached the district forum.
"We do not want to endorse in any manner a proposition that the interest will be paid only when a consumer, as a last resort in forced duress approaches the consumer fora," said the commission while giving relief to Mondal, who had taken an insurance policy of Rs 1,16,000 for her vehicle which was in force till August 8, 2008.
The vehicle was stolen on June 26, the same year and she had intimated the insurance company on July 11, well within the policy maturity date.
"Interest is to offset the delay in making the due payment promptly and dutifully at the due time," said a bench of NCDRC presiding member S M Kantikar and member Dinesh Singh.
The bench also directed the company to pay Mondal a compensation of Rs 50,000 along with litigation cost of Rs 5,000 within 30 days.
"The forced duress to approach the consumer fora, the protracted litigation in three fora, definitely qualify for appropriate and equitable compensation, commensurate with the loss and injury, harassment and difficulty, uncertainty and helplessness," the bench said.
Mondal, who had informed the company about the theft over the phone was advised to report it in writing with a copy of the FIR which she got on July 10, 2008 and immediately the very next day, she informed the company by registered post.
However, the company contended that she had informed about the theft after expiry of 14 days, which is in violation of the conditions of the insurance policy.
The commission said, "The complainant had a valid policy, she had duly paid the premium, she lodged an FIR, she intimated the insurance company, she kept on corresponding and requesting and was then left with no option but to seek remedy under law".
"The insurance company should have been prompt and dutiful in settling the claim within a reasonable period in which a reasonable man will not agitate," it said.
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