The National Insurance Company Ltd has been ordered by the Maharashtra State Consumer Commission to pay compensation of Rs 3.5 lakh to the widow of a TELCO employee, for refusing to clear an insurance policy claim and raising questions about the accidental death of her husband.
Ganesh Savadekar’s life had been insured by the TELCO employee’s co-operative credit society that covers all its members, and the Standard Chartered Bank, as he held a credit card of the bank.
Sawadekar died while crossing the railway tracks on May 16, 1999. Subsequently, acting on a claim lodged by his wife Sangita, the insurance company (National Insurance Company Ltd on behalf of the Standard Chartered Bank) sanctioned Rs2.5 lakh, accepting that Sawadekar had died in an accident.
However, when the widow lodged another claim towards the policy drawn by the co-operative credit society, the National Insurance Company rejected it expressing doubt about Sawadekar’s death.
After the widow approached the State Consumer Commission through advocate Supriya Mharolkar, the insurance company maintained that Sawadekar’s death was the result of his own illegal act. It said the man had trespassed on railway property and, so, his widow was not entitled to the insurance amount.
The commission refused to accept that crossing the railway line could be termed an offence. “In cities, people are exposed to railway tracks at many places and have to pass unmanned crossings,” the commission said.
The commission held the insurance company guilty of deficiency in service, noting that the company, which sanctioned one policy claim, cannot be heard to say the insured person was guilty of a criminal act in crossing the railway line unauthorisedly, and therefore his death was not accidental.
The public sector insurance company will have to pay Rs 5 lakh to the widow as well as an additional amount of more than Rs. 3.5 lakh towards interest at the rate of 7% per annum from the date of rejecting her claim and Rs 5,000 towards litigation costs.