Insurance company told to pay up

NEW DELHI, JULY 24. This was a colour offset printing machine from Germany costing Rs. 58,87,741 that was "colour-blind". Ordered by Ajanta Offset and Packing Limited from its sole agent in India, Indo Polygraph Machine, the machine was installed in their factory. However, it printed in a single colour. Damaged on its trial run, while the machine was insured, it took Ajanta Offset and Packing Limited eight long years of legal battle to get justice.

While Ajanta Offset and Packing Limited informed the National Insurance immediately after the machine got damaged, the surveyors took 10 months to submit their report. Despite three surveyors assessing the damage to the machine, the insurance company kept demanding more information. Tired of waiting, Ajanta Offset and Packing Limited went to court. The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has now directed the National Insurance to pay up Rs. 10,90, 836 at 9 per cent interest from March 1992.

In its case before the bench of the National Disputes Redressal Commission, Ajanta Offset and Packing Limited argued that the machine was a bi-colour one and on damage to its cylinders, it only printed in one colour, which defeated the purpose of importing the machine. The company further submitted that Marine-cum-Erection Insurance Policy covered the printer and since the machine was damaged at the time of trial run, the insurance company should compensate its losses.

For its part, the insurance company submitted that the complaint was not maintainable as Ajanta Offset and Packing Limited was not a consumer. It also stated that the company could not pursue the claim as the policy cannot be assigned and only the person who took the policy and paid the premium was entitled to pursue it. The Marine Insurance also provides that the policy is assignable, National Insurance argued. It further stated that the machine could have been damaged when it left Germany and since Ajanta Offset and Packing Limited used the machine even after it was damaged, therefore, the complaint was not maintainable.

After going through all the evidence a bench of the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, said the insurance policy itself provides that "company promises and agrees with the insured their executors, administrators and assigns to make good all such losses and damage'' that may happen to the subject, therefore the assignee is entitled to make good the loss or damage by the insurance policy. The bench further stated that the insurance company was liable for the damage caused to the machine. The manufacturer may or may not be liable, but the liability is of the insurance company as per contract. Therefore, it directed the company to pay Rs. 10,90, 836 at 9 per cent interest from March 1992.

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