A district consumer forum recently directed the Oriental Insurance Company Limited to pay the over Rs 2 lakh spent by a Mulund resident, Arvind Thakkar, to bring back the dead body of his wife, Rashmi, from America. The forum observed that a clause in the insurance said the company would bear the transfer charges of the body, and hence the company could not reject the claim sighting the 'cause of death'.
The forum, headed by SS Vyavahare and member SR Sanap, directed the company to pay Thakkar the cost of transferring the body along with 10 per cent interest from the date of filing the complaint till disbursal of the amount. In addition, the insurance company also should pay a compensation of Rs 10,000 for the mental agony it caused to the complainant, as well as Rs 2,500 towards litigation cost.
As per the complaint filed by Thakkar through NGO Consumer Welfare Association, he had taken the insurance policy for a period starting from March 22, 2009 to September 17, 2009. As per the terms and conditions, the company would cover the transfer charges of the dead body to India if the insured died while abroad; if the last rites were performed abroad, the cost of that too would be covered.
On March 31, 2009, Rashmi died at her son's house when he and his wife were away at work. Her son informed the local office of the insurance company about the death after he returned home. The company did not respond. And the son spend money from his pocket to transfer the body to India.
The company rejected the claim on September 23, 2009 after Thakkar had applied for it. The reason sighted was that Rashmi had died of cardiac arrest, an ailment that was not covered under the policy. Thakkar then moved the forum seeking compensation of over Rs 2 lakh.
The company claimed the complaint was false as Thakkar had not informed before taking the policy that his wife had been suffering from heart ailment. Further, it was argued that the complaint had been filed after two years, in 2012, making it bound by the 'law of limitation'.
AM Macarena's, appearing for the NGO, argued that the claim raised was not connected to the ailment, and hence the company was bound to compensate Thakkar. The forum, which agreed with the argument put up, asked the insurance firm to pay Thakkar the claim amount.