Get policy terms changed during free look-in period | Business Standard Column

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The commission observed that the cheque was remitted in accordance with the terms of the policy, and it was not possible to hold the company liable

Jehangir B Gai

Babulal Das filed a complaint before the Howrah District Forum alleging he had applied to Aviva Life Insurance for the purchase of two single-premium policies, having a premium of Rs 61,854 each. But the company had wrongly issued him regular traditional policies, which required the payment of periodic premiums. In his complaint, he stated that corrections were not made to the policy even after he had pointed out the anomaly. Das sought a refund of his premiums, along with compensation and costs.

The insurer contested the case. It stated that Das was an educated person who had applied voluntarily for the policies. It added that Das had neither disputed the policy terms during the free look in period of 15 days prescribed by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (Irdai), nor had he made any request for rectification of the policy. The insurer argued that Das had no right to seek a refund after the expiry of the free look-in period, as the insurance contract had been concluded.

The forum observed that there was no documentary evidence to support Das’ case that he had sought single-premium policies. On the contrary, the documentary evidence showed that Das had sent the insurer a letter of thanks for the policies issued to him. Later, he had also transferred money to the insurer. No explanation was given for why the transfer had been done, which led the forum to conclude that the money was remitted towards payment of insurance premium. So, the forum dismissed the complaint, holding there was no evidence to establish deficiency in service.

Das challenged this order in appeal. The West Bengal State Commission also refused to believe that an educated person like Das would only make verbal requests for rectification of policies, without putting any written communication on record. The commission wondered why Das had not exercised caution in the subsequent policy taken by him, and had allowed the same ‘mistake’ to get repeated over and over again on six occasions, spanning eight months. The commission concluded that the only inference was that there was no mistake and that the complaint filed was devoid of merit. So, it upheld the dismissal of the complaint.

Das then filed a revision petition. He claimed that the agent had given a handwritten, but unsigned calculation sheet, giving a calculation of the refund amount. The insurer disputed the authenticity of the calculation sheet. So, the national commission held that it did not have any evidentiary value.

The national commission also observed that Das’ occupation, as mentioned in the proposal form, was different from the one mentioned in the complaint. In spite of this, income-tax returns were not produced to substantiate the correct facts. Likewise, even in the revision, Das had failed to produce any proof to show that he had opted for single-premium policies. The national commission concluded that in the absence of proof, the complaint had been rightly dismissed.

The commission also noted that the policies had lapsed during the intervening period. Since the policies were not revived, the amount payable was calculated and remitted to Das, who chose not to encash the cheque. The commission observed that the cheque was remitted in accordance with the terms of the policy, and it was not possible to hold the company liable, merely because Das had failed to encash the cheques.

Accordingly, by its order of November 30, delivered by Justice R K Agrawal on behalf of the Bench with S M Kantikar, the national commission agreed that the complaint was without merit, and dismissed the revision petition.

The writer is a consumer activist

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