Directing an insurance company to pay Rs 2.43 lakh to a Maloya resident in an accident claim, the Chandigarh Consumer Forum said that “mere smelling of alcohol does not mean that the person was under its influence”. The accident damage claim of Bhagirath Singh was rejected by ICICI Lombard General Insurance claiming the person who was driving the vehicle that met with the accident was under the influence of liquor.
In its judgment released on February 6, the Forum said, “Mere smell of alcohol may suggest the person had consumed liquor-like substance, but it does not lead to the conclusion that he was under its influence. Smell of alcohol may be due to other reasons, including consumption of medicines like cough syrups, which has liquor content..” In his complaint, Singh said his Mahindra XUV-500, driven by his son-in-law Inderjit Singh, collided with a PCR gypsy parked in front of Signus Hospital, Kurukshetra, on July 17, 2017.
It was insured from ICICI Lombard General Insurance till November 14, 2017. An FIR was registered at PS Thanesar, Kurukshetra. Inderjit was medico-legally examined at a hospital where the doctor found that he was smelling of alcohol.
Bhagirath Singh submitted the claim of the damaged XUV to its insurance firm and the repairing agency raised invoice for an amount of Rs 3.24 lakh out of which the complainant paid an amount of Rs 2.7 lakh, while Rs 54,118 was due. The claim was rejected by the insurance firm, which mentioned that Inderjit Singh was under the influence of alcohol and in such like situation, claim amount is not reimbursed.
The Forum after going by the submissions of both the parties, said that the medical officer did not say that Inderjit was under the influence of liquor. Police also had not made a request to the doctor to test his urine or blood samples to know the quantity of liquor in his body.
“…The doctor did not opine that Inderjit Singh was tipsy or his speech was slurred. The ground for rejection of the claim made on the basis of the report does not hold any good. Merely saying Inderjit had consumed liquor does not lead to the inference that he was under the influence of liquor..” it read.
The Forum directed the insurance firm to pay Rs 1,98,010, along with an interest of 9 percent per annum from the date of rejection of the claim. It was also directed to pay Rs 30,000 as compensation and Rs 15,000 as the cost of litigation