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In a city like Delhi, where accidents are common, huge bills for car damages will probably be borne by you, although you may not be the one at fault. Even if your insurance company pays it, it will do so at the cost of your ‘No Claim Bonus’.
So, it is better to file a claim as the ‘third party’. Is it possible?
In India, third party insurance is a mandatory cover without which one can’t drive his/her vehicle on the roads. But, very few remember to claim this insurance when it is required or the vehicle is damaged by others. Even if they want, they drop it at the thought of the hassle involved in the claiming process.
What's Covered Under Third Party Motor Insurance?
A comprehensive auto insurance policy, generally, clubs together two covers- the third party insurance and the own-damage cover. Some, also, offer a personal accident cover. As one can guess by its name, the cover includes damages to your vehicle, bodily injury, disability and death.
While the above-mentioned covers are optional, third party insurance is compulsory as per the Motor Vehicle Act. Also labelled as an ‘Act Only’ plan, third party insurance cover doesn’t cover you or your vehicle. This cover is for legal liabilities claimed by the third party against the damage, or injury or third party property damage where the insured is at fault. Hence, the beneficiary of this cover is the third party only. The insured enjoys minimal benefits.
The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority decides the premium of the third party insurance cover. It is more or less same for all insurance companies. However, the premium amount may differ depending on the engine capacity of your vehicle. For example, as an owner of a Hyundai i10, you pay 1,500 as third party insurance premium, while the annual premium for Toyota Altis comes around Rs 5,000. IRDA, on annual basis, reviews the third party insurance rate and make changes accordingly.
The Complex Part
The long procedure of claiming third party insurance starts with registering an FIR in a nearby police station followed by collecting a charge sheet. After that Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, a special court, registers a case, as Civil courts can’t make a judgement on road accidents or decide a compensation claim.
One can register a claim for injury, death or property damage, with the tribunal with jurisdiction over the area where the insured or defendant resides. However, there is no limit for claiming on liability for injury or death, on can avail the cover for third-party property damage up to Rs. 7.5 lakh.
Here you have to tackle everything on your own. The insurer will not help you get the claim done. Insurance companies have a 'knock-to-knock agreement' as per which they are responsible to pay for the damages to the policyholder’s vehicle so long as it offers coverage for such injury or damage, despite the liability. Medical bills, including the damage to the vehicle, will be paid by the insurance company if it is covered and no claim will be entertained from the insurer if the vehicle is at fault.
Still keen on heading to the tribunal?
Ensure you keep all required documents handy. A proper narration of the incident is required with an FIR and records of expenses are preserved to validate financial losses.
The Claim Process
One can file a claim for hospitalisation expenses, in case of an accidental injury, permanent total or partial disability and loss of income i.e if the person is unable to earn due to bodily injury. In case of the policyholder's demise, the dependents are eligible to claim a compensation, based on the income of the departed. Also, one can claim for the medical costs of the injury that lead to death.
In case of property damage, one will need the inspection officer’s report, original bills and surveyor’s report to estimate the loss. However, the turnover time for third-party claims for injury or death is three years.
The hurdle is to prove the other party’s mistake in court. The claimant has to establish other party’s negligence to avail compensation. Only after you establish the fault of the other party involved in the accident, can the claim for the damages be filed. You will be uncertain of being compensated until the court announces its decision in your favour.
In case you are compensated with less than what you expected, don’t expect that your insurance company to compensate the difference. One can’t claim compensation for the same damage more than once. Another problem is, owing to the huge number of pending cases, you might get a date from the court, say after three month or six months. So, their possibility of getting stuck are high.
The Final Word
So far, the ratio of claiming third party insurance is comparatively low. The car insurance claim process is a burden and time-taking. Moreover, nobody wants to take so much pain for a small damage that can be tackled smoothly with an own-damage claim. But, those without a comprehensive cover, who entirely depend on third party insurance, always remember to write down the registration number of the party at fault. This is the only way to track the vehicle and file a complaint.
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