Millennium Post

NIACL to pay Rs 14.2 lakh for wrong loss assessment of firm

New India Assurance Co Ltd (NIACL) has been directed by a consumer forum here to pay over Rs 14.2 lakh to a printing firm for wrongly assessing loss suffered by it due to a fire at its establishment.

'The report of the surveyor is not a binding piece of evidence,' the Central District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum observed.

It said that NIACL should have examined its surveyor's assessment report in light of its terms and conditions and once the defect in assessment was brought to its notice, the company should not have relied on it.

'In view of the law of the land as laid down by the Supreme Court of India, the report of the surveyor is not a binding piece of evidence. The insurance company or insured are not bound by the report of the surveyor as the report can only be basis for settlement. The defect in the assessment was brought to the knowledge of the insurance company.

'Still, the insurer agreed with the said report of the surveyor. The act of the insurance company caused deficiency in service. The complainant's [Print Offset] claim for the balance amount of the Offset Printing Machine is accepted on the basis of the invoice of the machine,' the forum said.

The bench presided by B B Chaudhary gave its order on a plea by Delhi-based firm Print Offset's owner, Harish Gupta, who had said assessment of loss by the surveyor was one-sided as he had claimed loss of Rs 38 lakh but the firm only paid Rs 9,27,675.

He had said that the printing machine alone was worth Rs 20 lakh and had sought the balance amount due to him as NIACL had paid only Rs 6,06,256 toward loss of the machine.

The forum observed that after adjusting the Rs 6,06,256 paid by insurance company, a balance amount of over Rs 13.94 lakh was due to the firm as the machine was worth Rs 20 lakh and directed NIACL to pay the balance amount and Rs 20,000 as compensation and Rs 10,000 as cost.

The NIACL had contended that as it had paid Rs 9,27,675 as full and final settlement and Gupta had executed the discharge vouchers, he cannot raise a dispute.

The forum rejected the contention saying as Gupta had sought details of how the loss was assessed and had requested the cheque of balance amount at the earliest. 'It cannot be said he accepted the offered amount unconditionally.'

Gupta had said he had insured his firm's plant, machinery, furniture and the stocks with NIACL for Rs 73.25 lakh.

On 26 July 2006, a major fire had broken out at the firm and caused extensive damages to plant machinery, fittings, furniture and equipments and the stock, he had said in his plea.

He also said, that despite reminders, the insurance company did not pay the balance amount due to him for loss of his printing machine.

The forum observed 'since, the amount has not been paid by the company inspite of protest and reminders, the complainant not only suffered financial losses but also harassment, pain and mental agony.'
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