Court ruled that this was a case of unfair trade practice, and has awarded the win in the favour of Endeavour owner
Mayur Batra filed a case under Section-19 of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 with the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission on January 21, 2009. He had purchased a Ford Endeavour SUV for Rs.13,57,000/- from South City Motors, an authorized Ford India dealer. The vehicle was insured with ICICI Lombard General Insurance Co. Ltd. at a premium of Rs.50,550, dated 28.02.2006 from 28.02.2006 to 27.02.2007.
The Endeavour met with an accident near Ludhiana on December 8,.2006. The vehicle was badly damaged, and police was informed. The vehicle’s front body was crushed like paper, and the air bag failed to inflate. The wind screen was broken and Mayur Batra got injured. On December 11, 2006, the SUV was towed to the workshop for inspection and loss assessment.
The staff assessed repair cost at Rs 14 lakhs. The body shell was damaged and chassis cracked, needing replacement. An insurance claim was submitted, and as cost of repair was estimated to be more than new vehicle cost, it was to be treated as a total loss.
However, a sum of Rs 3 lakh was approved to carry out repair, rather than pay sum assured. The workshop informed the car owner on March 31, 2007 that the Endevour had been repaired and would be released on payment of Rs 4,81,148 attributed to repair charges. In May, 2007, he was further informed to pay Rs 1,91,000 as balance amount was to be paid by the insurance company.
Fixing Did Not Help
Upon inspecting the vehicle, Batra noticed the brakes weren’t working, and so the vehicle couldn’t be taken for a test drive. The workshop was unable to provide assurance regarding vehicle safety, and whether the vehicle had been restored to its original condition. The workshop said, ‘The Accidental deformities can be removed only by replacement of the body of the vehicle.’ With the vehicle not fully restored to its original condition, it was a case of deficiency in service, and unfair trade practice.
The defence appointed a surveyor who determined the vehicle was in repairable condition, and did not recommend the vehicle for total loss. The State Commission ruled that the insurer pay the complainant the insured value of the vehicle less 5 percent depreciated value as the vehicle was only ten months old at the time of accident.
Once payment is made, Batra was directed to take necessary steps to transfer registration to the name of Insurance Company and hand over the keys. In the meantime, the insurance company was to clear the repair bill with the workshop. Litigation cost of 10k was to be paid by the insurer to the complainant. The insurer was aggrieved by the order of the State Commission, and had filed the present Appeal.
Long story short, in its order of July 28, delivered by C Viswanathan for the Bench along with Prem Narain, the National Commission upheld the ruling of deficiency in service and an unfair trade practice. It upheld the order passed in Batra’s favour by the state commission, and dismissed the insurer’s appeal.