Insurance Company Cannot Deny A Vehicle Owner’s Claim Merely Because the Driver Possessed A Fake License.
The Supreme Court recently held that an insurance claim cannot be denied only on the ground that the vehicle was driven by a driver possessing a fake license, in the absence of proven wilful negligence by the insured in verifying the genuineness of the licence.
- Supreme court has ruled that an insurance company cannot deny claim to the owner of a vehicle involved in a road accident if his driver had falsely claimed to be holding a valid driving license by producing a fake document.
- A bench of justices Navin Sinha and Krishna Murari, observed that the owner cannot make inquiries with the regional transport office to ascertain the veracity of the driving license.
- Supreme court said wilful breach of the conditions of the insurance policy should be established to deny claim to the insured.
- Further the court stated that while hiring a driver the employer is not expected to verify if the driver has a driving license. If the driver produces a license which on the face of it looks genuine, the employer is not expected to further investigate into the authenticity of the license unless there is cause to believe otherwise.
Section 149 in The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988
- Duty of insurers to satisfy judgments and awards against persons insured in respect of third party risks.—
(1) If, after a certificate of insurance has been issued under sub-section (3) of section 147 in favour of the person by whom a policy has been effected, judgment or award in respect of any such liability as is required to be covered by a policy under clause (b) of sub-section (l) of section 147 (being a liability covered by the terms of the policy) 1[or under the provisions of section 163A] is obtained against any person insured by the policy, then, notwithstanding that the insurer may be entitled to avoid or cancel or may have avoided or cancelled the policy, the insurer shall, subject to the provisions of this section, pay to the person entitled to the benefit of the decree any sum not exceeding the sum assured payable thereunder, as if he were the judgment debtor, in respect of the liability, together with any amount payable in respect of costs and any sum payable in respect of interest on that sum by virtue of any enactment relating to interest on judgments.
(2) No sum shall be payable by an insurer under sub-section (1) in respect of any judgment or award unless, before the commencement of the proceedings in which the judgment or award is given the insurer had notice through the Court or, as the case may be, the Claims Tribunal of the bringing of the proceedings, or in respect of such judgment or award so long as execution is stayed thereon pending an appeal; and an insurer to whom notice of the bringing of any such proceedings is so given shall be entitled to be made a party thereto and to defend the action on any of the following grounds, namely:—
(a) that there has been a breach of a specified condition of the policy, being one of the following conditions, namely:—
(i) a condition excluding the use of the vehicle—
(a) for hire or reward, where the vehicle is on the date of the contract of insurance a vehicle not covered by a permit to ply for hire or reward, or
(b) for organised racing and speed testing, or
(c) for a purpose not allowed by the permit under which the vehicle is used, where the vehicle is a transport vehicle, or
(d) without side-car being attached where the vehicle is a motor cycle; or
(ii) a condition excluding driving by a named person or persons or by any person who is not duly licensed, or by any person who has been disqualified for holding or obtaining a driving licence during the period of disqualification; or
(iii) a condition excluding liability for injury caused or contributed to by conditions of war, civil war, riot or civil commotion; or
(b) that the policy is void on the ground that it was obtained by the non- disclosure of a material fact or by a representation of fact which was false in some material particular.
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(3) Where any such judgment as is referred to in sub-section (1) is obtained from a Court in a reciprocating country and in the case of a foreign judgment is, by virtue of the provisions of section 13 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908) conclusive as to any matter adjudicated upon by it, the insurer (being an insurer registered under the Insurance Act, 1938 (4 of 1938) and whether or not he is registered under the corresponding law of the reciprocating country) shall be liable to the person entitled to the benefit of the decree in the manner and to the extent specified in sub-section (1), as if the judgment were given by a Court in India: Provided that no sum shall be payable by the insurer in respect of any such judgment unless, before the commencement of the proceedings in which the judgment is given, the insurer had notice through the Court concerned of the bringing of the proceedings and the insurer to whom notice is so given is entitled under the corresponding law of the reciprocating country, to be made a party to the proceedings and to defend the action on grounds similar to those specified in sub-section (2).
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(4) Where a certificate of insurance has been issued under sub-section (3) of section 147 to the person by whom a policy has been effected, so much of the policy as purports to restrict the insurance of the persons insured thereby by reference to any condition other than those in clause (b) of sub-section (2) shall, as respects such liabilities as are required to be covered by a policy under clause (b) of sub-section (1) of section 147, be of no effect: Provided that any sum paid by the insurer in or towards the discharge of any liability of any person which is covered by the policy by virtue only of this sub-section shall be recoverable by the insurer from that person.
(5) If the amount which an insurer becomes liable under this section to pay in respect of a liability incurred by a person insured by a policy exceeds the amount for which the insurer would apart from the provisions of this section be liable under the policy in respect of that liability, the insurer shall be entitled to recover the excess from that person.
(6) In this section the expression “material fact” and “material particular” means, respectively a fact or particular of such a nature as to influence the judgment of a prudent insurer in determining whether he will take the risk and, if so, at what premium and on what conditions, and the expression “liability covered by the terms of the policy” means a liability which is covered by the policy or which would be so covered but for the fact that the insurer is entitled to avoid or cancel or has avoided or cancelled the policy.
(7) No insurer to whom the notice referred to in sub-section (2) or sub-section (3) has been given shall be entitled to avoid his liability to any person entitled to the benefit of any such judgment or award as is referred to in sub-section (1) or in such judgment as is referred to in sub-section (3) otherwise than in the manner provided for in sub-section (2) or in the corresponding law of the reciprocating country, as the case may be. Explanation.—For the purposes of this section, “Claims Tribunal” means a Claims Tribunal constituted under section 165 and “award” means an award made by that Tribunal under section 168.
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