The Supreme Court has held 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.
The Three judge bench headed by Justice NV Ramana was answering a reference that raised an issue whether delay in informing the occurrence of the theft of the vehicle to the insurance company, though the FIR was registered immediately, would disentitle the claimant of the insurance claim.
The bench also comprising of Justices R. Subhash Reddy and BR Gavai, agreed with the views expressed in the judgment in Om Prakash vs. Reliance General Insurance, that 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. It was 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. Answering the reference, the bench observed:
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.
The Court observed:
After the vehicle is stolen, a person, who lost his vehicle, would immediately lodge an FIR and the immediate conduct that would be expected of such a person would be to assist the police in search of the vehicle. The registration of the FIR regarding the theft of the vehicle and the final report of the police after the vehicle is not traced would substantiate the claim of the claimant that the vehicle is stolen. Not only that, but the surveyors appointed by the insurance company are also required to enquire whether the claim of the claimant regarding the theft is genuine or not. If the surveyor appointed by the insurance company, upon inquiry, finds that the claim of theft is genuine then coupled with the immediate registration of the FIR, in our view, would be conclusive proof of the vehicle being stolen.
Case name: GURSHINDER SINGH vs. SHRIRAM GENERAL INSURANCE CO.LTD Case no.: CIVIL APPEAL No.653 OF 2020Coram: Justices NV Ramana, R. Subhash Reddy and BR Gavai
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