NATIONAL

Is death by mosquito bite insurable?

The patient died after being diagnosed with encephalitis malaria.

The patient died after being diagnosed with encephalitis malaria.  

It can’t be called death due to accident in malaria-prone Mozambique: SC

Is death by mosquito bite insurable as a ‘personal accident’?

Well, not if the mosquito bit the insured person in the Republic of Mozambique, the Supreme Court held on Tuesday in a judgment.

The case concerns Debhashis Bhattacharjee, who died of multiple organ failure after being diagnosed with encephalitis malaria contracted from a mosquito bite he sustained while working in Mozambique in 2012.

His insurance policy covered personal accidents. Both the State and the National Consumer Dipsutes Redressal Commissions dismissed the plea made by the insurance company, National Insurance Limited, that the man died as a result of an infection. The company argued that a mosquito bite cannot be classified as a ‘personal accident’ covered under the policy.

The insurance company, represented by advocate Madhavi Divan, said death due to malaria was a common occurrence in Mozambique. Ms. Divan referred to the World Health Organisation’s World Malaria Report 2018, which showed that an estimated ten million cases of malaria in Mozambique and an estimated 14.7 thousand deaths in 2017.

A Bench led by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud disagreed with the conclusions of both the Consumer Disputes Commissions.

The National Commission too had agreed that if the insurance company could cover events like snake bite, frost bite and dog bite then why not mosquito bites.

In his 16-page judgment, Justice Chandrachud acknowledged that being “bitten by a mosquito is an unforeseen eventuality.”

However, the mosquito bit Mr. Bhatacharjee in Mozambique, which according to World Health Organisation has a population of 29.6 million people and accounts for 5% of the cases of malaria globally.

“It is on record that one out of three people in Mozambique is afflicted with malaria. It was not a peril insured against in the policy of accident insurance,” Justice Chandrachud said and set aside the decisions of the Consumer Disputes Commission.

Recommended for you