When your claim hits a speed-bump

Your motor insurance claim may not be honoured for valid reasons. Here are a few

Buying a motor insurance policy is the simplest and easiest way to ensure that accidents, thefts, and other losses pertaining to automobiles don’t burn a hole in your pocket. But a big fear people have is that their claims may be rejected. Here are some instances where this is likely to happen:

Pre-existing damage, claims

Usually, your vehicle is inspected before issuing a policy in order to ensure that you don’t file a claim for any old or pre-existing damage at a later date. Thus, the insurance cover is restricted to damages occurring during the policy’s tenure.

It is wrong to conceal general information as well as details of past claims when switching to a new insurer merely to qualify for the bonus/discount that insurance companies offer if no claim has been filed. Disclosing incomplete information would justify the insurance company’s rejecting your claim.

Mechanical wear and tear

The vehicle is equipped with many assemblies and, with age and use, they tend to wear out and require periodic attention.

Any failure of parts and assemblies such as engine, gear box, suspension, steering, fuel system and brakes, on account of wear and tear and ageing (periodic or breakdown maintenance) is not covered by the insurance policy. The owner must maintain the vehicle in an efficient and roadworthy condition as per a policy clause.

Invalid title, licence

According to the Ministry of Transport, more than five crore motorists are driving vehicles with fake licences. If you don’t have a valid and effective permanent licence or are holding a fake or expired licence, your insurance claim is unlikely to be settled.

The insurance company will consider claims if the driver has a learner’s licence (subject to rule No. 3 of the Motor Vehicle Act).

An insurer is not liable when the person at the wheel at the time of an accident is legally proven to be under the influence of alcohol.

In the case of a used car purchase, you must get the vehicle transferred by completing the appropriate RTO and insurance formalities within a stipulated period. If you don’t, your motor insurance claim will be rejected even if you are the vehicle’s owner.

Violation of restrictions

The policy document will determine the vehicle’s maximum capacity, which you should not exceed. Though the regulator allows 10 per cent overloading of a vehicle, beyond that the claims are liable to be rejected.

A lot of private vehicles are being used commercially, which is illegal and a breach of policy terms. A commercial automobile will generally travel more, be exposed to different risks, and be driven by different drivers.

Thus, insurers issue separate policies for personal vehicles and commercial cars. Claims for accident, theft, or any other reason when a personal car is being used for commercial reasons, for instance as a taxi, will be rejected.

Minimise rejection

Here are some practical tips to minimise chances of rejection : One, take a photograph of the vehicle immediately after an accident for record purposes.

Two, try filing your claim online immediately after the mishap, whenever your insurer provides such a facility.

Three, you can file an accurate First Information Report (FIR) applicable on theft, third-party property damage or in cases of injury and retain a copy.

Keep the contact details of your insurer in your vehicle at all times for prompt communication.

The writer is Chief Underwriting Officer, Bharti AXA General Insurance

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