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Improper storage not covered under exclusion, NDRC asks insurance company to pay up
DNA, June 17, 2019

The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) in a judgement directed the insurance company to pay for the damage to a consignment worth Rs 43,71, 979.

The claim of Honest Bio-Vet for its consignment that could not be shipped after it got damaged was rejected on the grounds that insurance could not be claimed if the loss or damage was caused by inherent vice or nature of the subject.

The matter came to the NCDRC after the company ICICI Lombard General Insurance moved the commission against an order of the Gujarat State commission.

Upholding the state commission's order, the NCDRC said that in this particular case the loss or damage was not because of the nature of the product but because it was improperly stored.

It said the claim cannot be rejected by the company since it could not come up with any clause in the insurance that stated that the claim would be rejected if the property concerned was not properly stored.

The matter pertained to one Honest Bio-Vet company which was in the business of manufacturing and exporting chemicals. The company had obtained a Marine Export Insurance (Open) policy for export of Meta ChloroPerbenzoic Acid to Spain and it covered the transit of the consignment from Ahmedabad to Spain.

The consignment was sent to Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust, Mumbai and a stuffing sheet was prepared for May 8, 2008 with a cut off date to load the container by May 14, 2008. However, it could not be loaded and it was later shipped from JNPT on May 21 but was removed to the reclamation area on May 24 after it was found to be leaking.

The insurance company send a surveyor to assess the loss and the surveyor said that the consignment was recommended to be kept in the refrigerator at a temperature below 4 C but during transit and storage it was put in a dry box office through container and was over stowed with other containers thereby ignoring the safety guidelines for storage.

The surveyor also said that the situation was out of control of the insured (complainant) and it was the handling agency that was to take requisite precautions.

The surveyor also suggested that the complainant should hold the handling agency liable for the loss and the claim was eventually repudiated by the insurance company.

The NCDRC said that even if the product sought to be exported by the complainant was not kept refrigerated and was exposed to a temperature higher than 4 C that did not breach the clause where the damage was caused due to the inherent nature of the subject.

It said the Meta ChloroPerBenzoic Acid had leaked not because of the inherent nature of the product but because of improper storage which means had it been properly sorted it could not have leaked.

It further said the omission or failure to keep the product refrigerated and at a temperature below 4 C was not covered under the exclusion of the insurance and hence the company is liable to pay the insured.

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