The Audi Q7 owner receives the claim for damages from the insurance company after a 7-year long legal battle. Read more about this interesting story here.
After over 7 years, the Telangana State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (TSCDRC) has ordered the insurance company to pay Rs 17.54 lakh with 7% interest to an Audi Q7 owner. The Q7’s owner had to spend Rs 20 lakh on repairs of the vehicle after being damaged during the 2013 floods. The insurance company had only offered Rs 53,000 as a payout. The TSCDRC found fault with Bharti Axa General Insurance Company Ltd for denying to help car owner Ch Sudhakar Raju, despite collecting a premium of Rs 1.12 lakh. The bench stated in its order that the insurance company was wrong in its conclusion. Raju, a resident of Banjara Hills, had to get his Q7 repaired after its engine was damaged during the floods.
The bench which had Meena Ramanathan as a member and Justice MSK Jaiswal as the president said: “Merely because the car got in rain or drain water on the main road, we cannot expect the person sitting at the steering wheel not to make any attempt to start the car. The natural human instinct is to make an attempt to restart the car.”
Stating that each servicing of a luxury vehicle costs at least Rs 50,000, the bench further said: “Getting repairs done to such vehicles is much more expensive. It is wrong on the part of the insurance company to offer just Rs 53,000 to the petitioner towards repairs.” The bench also slapped additional costs of Rs 10,00 on the insurance company and has given it 4 weeks to pay Rs 17.54 lakh, plus the interest amount.
Raju had bought the Audi Q7 3.0 TDI model in December 2012 for Rs 60 lakh and applied for a new insurance policy. On September 15, 2013, the vehicle got stuck in a heavy traffic jam which was caused by a heavy downpour at Jubilee Hills. The area very quickly got inundated and vehicular traffic was stranded up to KBR park area. This led to flood water entering into the Q7’s engine and damaging it, leading to the vehicle not being able to start. It had to be towed to Audi’s workshop later. The insurance company’s representative after assessing the car said the damage was due to hydrostatic loss for which the car could not move.
The insurance company contended that this particular type of damage wasn’t covered in the policy and subsequently refused to compensate for the loss. It had also argued before the commission that if the vehicle was driven or an attempt to drive was made without effecting the required repairs, then the owner will be liable for the damage. It argued by saying: “We will not pay insurance in such a situation. Moreover, a surveyor appointed by the company gave a report saying that the engine was damaged on the account of the faulty handling of the situation by the owner. We are not liable to pay for any damage.”
The insurance company further argued: “After the vehicle got stuck in floodwaters, the owner should not have tried to start it. Because the owner tried to start it, the engine condition had worsened and the car got heavily damaged. Hence, the liability would lie on the owner and not on us.” It also said: “At best, we would pay Rs 53,000 towards repairs.”