No proof of intoxication, insurance firm to pay Rs 50L to kin of dead man in TN

The deceased G Shanmugasundaram of Thoothukudi had secured an Accident Care individual insurance policy from April 2018 to April 2019, and had mentioned his wife Saroja as the nominee.
Image used for representational purposes only
Image used for representational purposes onlyPexels

VIRUDHUNAGAR: A District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission in Srivilliputhur directed an insurance company to pay Rs 50 lakh insurance amount to the kin of a man, who died in 2018 after accidentally falling into a septic tank. The Commission also imposed a fine of Rs 20,000 on the insurance company over deficiency in service.

The insurance firm had earlier cited the autopsy report, which indicated the presence of ethyl alcohol in the deceased person’s body, and claimed that the deceased was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident and rejected the insurance claim.

However, the Commission refuted the charges, stating that the cause of death was due to asphyxiation.

The verdict was issued by the Commission’s president SJ Chakkkaravarthy and member M Muthulakshmi on a petition filed by the deceased’s wife S Saroja against the manager of the insurance company in Chennai and the company’s branch manager in Thoothukudi.

The deceased G Shanmugasundaram of Thoothukudi had secured an Accident Care individual insurance policy from April 2018 to April 2019, and had mentioned his wife Saroja as the nominee.

In October 2018, when Shanmugasundaram was connecting his toilet drain to the toilet drain tank on the road, he accidentally fell inside the tank. Although he was taken to the government hospital in Thoothukudi, he was declared dead. Subsequently, an autopsy report stated that asphyxiation due to drowning was the cause of death, and further chemical examination reports also detected the presence of ethyl alcohol in his stomach, intestine, liver, and kidney.

The insurance company had cited this report to reject the claim, stating, “The company is not liable to pay compensation during an event where the insurer dies while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.”

The Commission observed that the postmortem and final opinion copy did not contain details about alcohol concentration and there was no evidence to show the quantity of alcohol that was consumed.

“It is evident that the cause of death — ‘asphyxia’ due to drowning in the septic tank — cannot be considered to be under the willful influence of intoxication,” the panel stated, and directed the respondents to settle the insured amount. It also imposed penalties of Rs 10,000 for the mental agony and hardship caused to the complainant, and Rs 10,000 as litigation expenses.

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