Cannot claim insurance for road accident caused by one’s own fault: SC

New Delhi: One cannot claim insurance for road accident if it was caused by one’s own fault, the Supreme Court has held.

The top Court set aside a judgement by the Tripura High Court directing the National Insurance Company to pay Rs.10.57 lakh to the family members of Dilip Bhowmik, who died on May 20, 2012, after meeting with an accident.

The insurance company challenged the order before the top Court, contending that the deceased himself was the owner-cum-driver of the offending vehicle. He was not a third party within the meaning of the Motor Vehicles Act. “The accident had occurred due to the negligence of the deceased. Therefore, the appellant, being the insurer of the vehicle, was not liable to pay compensation,” the company said.

The High Court had accepted the plea by the insurance company but still directed it to pay the money, saying it should not be treated as a precedent.

After going through the facts of the case, the Supreme Court noted that the deceased was the victim of his own action of rash and negligent driving. Therefore, his family members could not have maintained the claim petition filed under Section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act.

The Court said the High Court was not justified in directing the insurer to pay the compensation. It, however, noted that under the terms of insurance contract, the family members were entitled to Rs.2 lakh, as indemnification was extended to personal accident of the deceased.

“A claimant, in our view, cannot maintain a claim if he/she has caused the accident on account of his/her own rash and negligent driving, and make the insurance company pay for the same,” a Bench of Justices  N.V. Ramana and S. Abdul Nazeer said.