The insurance firms cannot appoint a second surveyor to reassess the loss suffered by an insured entity without sector regulator IRDA's permission, the country's apex consumer forum has held.
The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission gave the ruling while upholding the claim of a poultry farm for payment of Rs 25 lakh as balance of its insurance settlement, as per the loss of Rs 65 lakh assessed by the first surveyor.
"We are of the considered opinion that while it is permissible to appoint a second surveyor to assess the loss, this must be for given reasons and only through the auspices of the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA)," said an NCDRC bench of Justice R C Jain and Member S K Naik.
The NCDRC gave its ruling on a complaint by Orissa-based Jagannatha Poultries which had alleged that the New India Assurance Company Ltd had arbitrarily withheld the balance of its claim on the basis of a second assessment of their loss.
The petitioner had contended that due to a cyclone, its entire unit was lost, and the first surveyor appointed by the insurance company had assessed the loss to be little over Rs 65 lakh.
The insurance firm, however, appointed a second surveyor which assessed the loss at around Rs 40 lakh, and the same was paid to the poultry farm, the petition said.
The petitioner contended that the second assessment could not form the valid basis for reassessment as it was not in accordance with the provisions of the Insurance Act as a IRDA's permission was not sought to appoint the second surveyor.
Agreeing with the complainant's contention, the NCDRC directed the insurance company to pay the poultry farm a sum of Rs 25 lakh as the balance of its claim for total loss of Rs 65 lakh.
It, however, rejected the the poultry farm's claim of another sum of Rs 10 lakh for "mental agony, harassment and loss of business" that it claimed to have undergone.