Tuesday, May 11

NCDRC asks Sahara India to promptly pay claimants under its accidental death scheme

New Delhi: The country’s apex consumer commission has directed Sahara India Commercial Corporation and all its employees to discontinue their “unfair trade practices” and promptly pay insurance compensation to heirs of deceased investors under its accidental death insurance policy.

The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) has directed the company, which entered into a legal battle with an insurance firm over payment of the claim amount under the policy, to settle its dispute without troubling the nominees of the deceased investors.

The commission also imposed a cost of Rs 2 lakh on the Chief Executive of Sahara India Commercial Corporation, along with a stern advice of caution for its unfair trade practices.

The ‘Sahara Rajat Yojna’ is the company’s policy under which nominees of a deceased policyholder shall be entitled for insurance compensation amount in cases of accidental death only. However, Sahara claimed that the liability to pay the amount was with insurance firm National Insurance Company Limited.

“This is a plain and simple case of a company with wherewithal, on the one side, and an ordinary common consumer without wherewithal, on the other, with the company first indulging in deficiency in service and unfair trade practice causing loss and injury to the consumer, and then indulging in litigation in one, and then, two, and now, three, consumer protection fora,” NCDRC Presiding member S M Kantikar and member Dinesh Singh said.

The NCDRC observations came while directing the Sahara India Commercial Corporation to pay Rs 1.5 lakh of the accidental death benefit claim to Vijay Kumar Agarwal, father of the deceased policyholder, 12 years after his death.

The commission also noted that the finance company had indulged in deficiency of service by denying the claim amount to the policyholder for a dispute with which he was unconcerned and also observed that other such instances of denied claim benefits under the same policy cannot be ruled out.

“We may also note that this is one particular instance that has come to notice before the consumer protection fora. The eventuality of other such instances, with other consumers, as an intermittent or regular practice cannot be ruled out,” NCDRC said.

In the present case, the deceased policyholder had died in 2007 in a road accident. However, his father who was his nominee was not given the claim benefits after his death.

Both the district and state consumer commission had ruled in favour of the complainant.

The NCDRC in its recent order upheld the order passed by the lower fora and asked the company to settle its dispute without troubling the policyholders and also directed it to file a compliance report within four weeks.

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