THE MAHARASHTRA District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has passed an order directing an insurance company to pay Rs 1 lakh each to family members of 23 farmers who lost their lives in accidents between 2010-2012. The company had earlier refused them compensation.
The farmers from different parts of the state including Amravati, Nagpur, Gadchiroli, Ahmednagar, Chandrapur and Jalgaon were covered under an insurance policy begun by the state government for all farmers.
The families’ complaints before the forum claimed that despite submitting the required documents to the village revenue officer, who forwarded them to the district authorities and thereafter to a brokerage company for the insurance firm, there had been no response to their claim.
All the complaint, most of which were registered by the wives of the deceased farmers, stated that the sudden and accidental death had rendered the family members helpless and that despite being eligible for Rs 1 lakh as insurance under the Farmers and Personal Accident Insurance Claim Policy, they had not received the sum.
The reasons for the deaths include motor vehicle accidents, snake bites, electric shock and an accidental fall into a well.
In one case, the wife of Dattatraya Hole, a farmer from Ahmednagar, in her complaint states that he died after a tractor hit him and pushed him into a water canal, and the insurance company claimed that it was Hole who was driving the tractor without a valid driving licence.
In another instance, Dnyandev Borade from the same district, as per his family’s complaint, was riding pillion when he died after a car hit the motorcycle. The objection raised by the insurance company to render the claim ineligible was that he did not have a valid licence, despite the fact that the deceased farmer was not driving the vehicle.
Objections raised by the insurance company in the other complaints include disparity in the name mentioned in records, delays in submitting FIR or forensic reports and the names of the deceased farmers not being included in the policy.
The complainants had named The New India Assurance Co Ltd, the Government of Maharashtra, and Cabal Insurance Brokerage Company Limited as respondents. The state government in its response claimed that it had paid an insurance premium to the insurance company and therefore had no relation with the complainant as a service provider.
The brokerage firm too claimed that it had forwarded the insurance claim documents to New India Assurance and therefore claim of deficiency of service was not maintainable against it.
“These documents are sufficient to prove that as the Complainant was the consumer of the Opposite Party No.1 (New India Assurance) and as the Opposite Party No.1 has failed to pay the insurance claim amount to the Complainant as it is deficiency in service on the part of Opposite Party No.1 and therefore, Opposite Party No.1 i.e. Assurance Company is only liable to pay to the Complainant. There is no deficiency in service on the part of other two Opposite Parties,” the order states.
Apart from Rs 1 lakh, the forum also ordered each complainant to be given Rs 5,000 as compensation for mental agony and Rs 2000 towards litigation expenses.