Take the third-party route to stake claim

Here’s what you should know about settling damages through third-party insurance

Many vehicle owners don’t know how to file a claim in the event of their vehicle being hit by another. Mostly they try to settle it through their ‘own damage’ component of the insurance policy or pay for the repairs from their own pocket.

Another way out is to settle the damage claim through the third-party (TP) insurance of the other vehicle involved in the accident. Here are a few things that one should know to stake claim through the TP insurance.

What is it?

A motor insurance policy offers three types of covers: Own damage cover, personal accident cover and third-party (TP) cover. Own damage cover allows claim for damage done in any kind of road accident; personal accident cover ensures claim in case of body injury to you or death in an accident; and TP insurance is for legal liabilities to a third person for death, injuries, damage to a vehicle or any other property.

Of the above three, TP is the only insurance that is mandatory under the Motor Vehicles Act. In a TP insurance policy, the first person is you, the second your insurance company, and the third party is the person whose vehicle or person suffers damage because of you.

When you are a victim

If you are the victim (third person) hit by a vehicle, you can claim medical expenses for the treatment of injuries, and in case of your death, your dependants can claim for the loss of earnings. They can also claim medical expenses incurred on treating the injury/injuries that caused the death.

For property damage, you need to provide proper reports from an authorised garage, original bills, and inspection reports to quantify the amount of your loss. If you can provide proper proof, you can be paid by the other person’s insurance company up to the prescribed limit of ₹7.5 lakh.

The process of staking claim under TP insurance begins with the filing of an FIR about the accident. This is followed by obtaining a charge-sheet (which is a bit difficult to get).

And after collecting all the necessary documents, you will have to hire a lawyer to file your claim in a special court called the Motor Accidents Claim Tribunal. After hearing both the claimant and the defendant, and examining the evidence presented before it, the court will fix the quantum of compensation. Much would also depend on the kind of policies the claimant and the defendant possess.

Using TP insurance is a time-consuming task. If you have a comprehensive insurance policy, to save time and stress, you can file claim under your ‘own damage’ cover. This would mean that you will have to forego the accumulated no-claim bonus.

The third option you have is to request your insurer to fight the case on your behalf. This process is called subrogation and it involves the insurer paying you the amount required for repairs.

The insurer will recover this amount from the TP insurance of the other person. The insurer, however, will only consider this if you have a comprehensive insurance policy.

In a scenario where both the parties have comprehensive insurance policies, your insurer will pay for the damage to your vehicle regardless of who is liable for the damage. In case of death or injuries, where claim is usually very high, the insurer will suggest that you file a case with the tribunal.

Accident caused by you

In case of an accident caused by you, the third person can file claim for compensation. And for that, the affected person will have to file a case against you and your insurer in the Motor Accidents Claim Tribunal, which will decide the quantum of compensation.

The limit of compensation a person can ask for property or vehicle damage is capped at ₹7.5 lakh by the regulator. But in case the compensation amount is more than the capped limit, then your insurer will pay ₹7.5 lakh and, you, the remaining amount to the third person. There is, however, no limit to compensation in case of death or body injury to a third person, and the amount decided by the tribunal is to be honoured.

The writer is co-founder and director, Policybazaar.com

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