An additional zero in the insurance policy number made all the difference when the Thane Motor Accident Claims Tribunal (MACT) settled a claim filed before it for a minor girl’s death.
Finding the policy number with the additional zero as fake, MACT member and district judge K D Vadane absolved the insurance company in the case and directed the owner of the offending tempo to pay Rs 5 lakh to the parents of the girl, who died in a road accident in 2013.
The claimants – Ganesh Ramulu Racha (33) and his wife Umalata Ganesh Racha (28) – residents of Padmanagar in Bhiwandi township here, told the tribunal that on November 2, 2013 their daughter Vaishnu (then aged 5) was crossing the Hanuman Tekadi road when a speeding tempo hit her.
The three-wheeler, being driven in a rash and negligent manner, ran over the girl, who sustained severe injuries in the accident and died on the spot, they said.
The tempo owner, who runs a textile firm, did not contest the case.
However, the insurer made respondent in the case – the Bajaj Allianz General Insurance Company Ltd – pointed out that the nine-digit insurance policy number ‘000062633’ mentioned in the claim was fake as it was never issued by it.
The insurance company submitted that every policy issued by it had an eight-digit number.
It also told the tribunal that a policy with number ‘00062633’ was issued by it for another vehicle for the period of 29.07.2008 to 28.07.2009.
The insurance firm further stated that the offending vehicle was not insured with it, and that the copy of policy mentioned on record by the applicants was fake.
However, the applicants submitted that the insurance company had not sent any notice to the owner or driver of the offending vehicle, and no criminal complaint was filed by it in respect of the fake policy. Therefore, the evidence adduced by the insurance” company be discarded.
But the judge observed that not filing a criminal complaint was not a ground to discard the evidence of the insurance company.
Moreover, the insurance company filed on record the extract of its policy register which shows that the offending vehicle was not insured with it for that period, he said.
Also, it appears that the policy issued by the insurance firm ends with an eight-digit number and does not match with the policy certificate filed on record by applicants which has a nine-digit number (with four zeroes), the judge noted.
In such circumstances, “I have no hesitation in accepting the contention of the insurance company and to conclude that the certificate-cum-policy schedule filed by applicants on record is a fake one,” he said in his order on April 23, while relieving the insurance firm of the liability of paying the compensation.
The judge then awarded a total compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the girl’s parents and asked the tempo owner to pay it to them.