Automobile in this country is much more than a tin box on wheels meant to ferry people around. Automobiles in all their avatars are symbols of ultimate human aspiration, a tangible measure of prosperity, ambition, achievement and in several cases, the only means of livelihood. You only have to watch Rishi Kapoor’s delightfully succulent depiction of common man’s car aspirations in critically acclaimed Do Dooni Chaar to get a visual grasp of this omnipresent fact.
Obviously then, the suffering that ensues when this automobile lands in trouble soup transcends financial and physical planes for its owners, usually escalating to an almost heartbreaking turn of events. Add to it the inevitable insurance troubles and it is a perfect recipe for disaster.
We sorted out a couple of generic issues that kept repeating themselves in various forms in scores of automobile insurance related complaints that have been received by Akosha in recent times. A few of these issues can be avoided by caution, awareness, necessary research and pre-preparation; the rest by sheer stroke of luck. But, there are still courses of action that consumers can resort to seek remedy against the unavoidable issues. We give you a lowdown.
Misinformation Conundrum—Almost all automobile insurance claims are a result of accident that automatically implies involvement of local police and mandatory FIR for being able duly file any claim (unless of course you are unlucky enough to have your vehicle damaged by something as benign as a falling coconut as happened in a recently reported case. For details, see Sorting The Insurance Skeletons.
Rakesh Kumar from Patna, a consumer had approached Akosha with his complaint against Bajaj Allianz. Despite proper survey by insurer and an assurance of the claim being processed, Rakesh never got the claim amount and was informed at a much later stage that the claim could not be processed because he had not supplied the necessary documents including FIR and permit as the vehicle had commercial registration. What was striking was that the consumer was never actually informed that he had to supply this document at any prior point of time before or after the survey.
Rakesh’s case is an illustrative instance of the trouble that are borne out of sheer miscommunication or lack of information. The way out is simple—don’t blindly rely on your insurer to provide you all the information. Even if they don’t hold back information deliberately, there still may be things that may have fallen through the cracks. Research on your own and ask loads of question. As far as possible, try to secure all relevant communication in writing.
The Documentary Pain-‘ No proper documents’ is every insurer’s favorite excuse and as seen in case of Rakesh’s complaint, can easily snowball into a major issue. FIR or the lack of it is one of the most common sources of trouble in such claims. As a thumb rule in all claims arising out of accidents, an FIR is a must and securing it should be your priority, whether or not your insurer has specifically asked for it and irrespective of the nature of your claim. This is every insurer’s favorite stumbling block and it is always better to err on the side of caution.
Insurers on their very own are capable of troubles that can last a lifetime. Add police to the equation, and a consumer inferno is guaranteed. Narem, a consumer who had approached Akosha with a complaint against ICICI Lombard, got a first hand taste of this inferno when his FIR was not filed by the police for 80 days and even when it was filed, his insurer refused to process the claim on account of delay.
These are the kind of instances that actually can’t really be prevented. But if and once they happen, consumers should immediately take up the matter with Insurance Ombudsman, as their claim can’t be denied for delays that are not really their fault. Also, when opting for a policy, carefully examine the time frame within which the documents, especially the FIR has to be filed with the insurer.
Consumers’ Faults—Much as most consumers would like to disagree, the insurers are not always necessarily wrong. You would be surprised by the number of issues and claim rejections that could have been avoided only if the policy holders had been slightly more careful, read the terms of their policy and complied with them strictly.
The most basic error that leads to rejection of claims is the fact that the vehicle was being driven by a person who did not have a proper driver’s license at the time of the accident. Driving a vehicle without a license is a serious breach of law and also a serious security threat to not just the driver/owner but everyone around them. And of course, it has a more tangible repercussion as an outright rejection of the ensuing insurance claim.
Not just the driving license, the insurance claims are rejected if the vehicle is not duly registered including instances where a vehicle registered for personal usage is engaged for commercial purposes. Always abide by the rules in this regard and duly register your vehicle to avoid such issues.
The troubles are manifold but as has been illustrated, most of them can be avoided with vigilance, caution, awareness and of course, abidance with rules and regulations. For the ones that still can’t be avoided, there are Insurance Ombudsman and consumer forums.