When it comes to eligibility for insurance claims for companies, lunch break is a part of business hours, ruled the national consumer redressal body.
The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission recently upheld an order by the State Consumer Commission holding that business hours
include the lunch break, and dismissed an appeal filed by the New Indian Assurance Company.
The insurance company had approached the national commission after the state commission dismissed its appeal against an order directing the company to pay Rs. 10.46 lakh to a Bhayander jeweller towards part insurance claim.
On May 8, 2003, gold ornaments worth Rs22.93 lakh had been stolen from Panchsheel Jewellers during the lunch break. The local police registered an FIR, caught the culprits, and recovered ornaments worth Rs12.47 lakh.
The jeweller lodged an insurance claim with the New India Assurance Company, which repudiated the claim on grounds that under the insurance policy, business hours did not include lunch break. The company further said that since the claim fell under the exclusion clause, it was not liable to honour the claim.
The Thane district forum, however, rejected the insurance company’s contention.
The company then appealed to the Maharashtra State Commission against the district forum’s order, but the appeal was rejected. The company then moved the national body.
The insurance company challenged the state commission’s order saying that the terms of the policy have to be strictly interpreted and no exception can be made. Justifying the contention, the company’s counsel said that the terms of the policy required the jeweller to secure all property, including ornaments and cash, at the insured premises in a locked safe at all times that were not business hours.
The national commission, however, found fault with the interpretation, ruling that none of the terms of the police allowed the interpretation that lunch break was not included in business hours.
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