Borrower of insured vehicle not entitled to compensation : Gauhati High Court

In a motor vehicle case, if a claimant has simply borrowed an insured vehicle, he cannot enjoy the benefits, cover or reliefs which is meant for the insured only was upheld in the Gauhati High Court through the learned bench led by HONOURABLE MRS. JUSTICE MALASRI NANDI in the case of National Insurance Co Ltd vs. Md Atikul Islam and anr. (MACApp. 15/2011).

Brief facts of the case are that it was appeal against the 2010 decision of the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal (MACT), the present defendant was awarded ₹1,61,000 in compensation for an accidental injury involving an insured bicycle they had borrowed. The claimant was riding a motorcycle en route from Guwahati to Changsari and when he arrived in Silemahekhaity he suddenly lost control of the vehicle and it crashed by the roadside. As a result of the accident in question, the claimant was seriously injured and taken to the hospital. After the accident, it was determined that the alleged vehicle was duly insured by the National Insurance Company Limited.

The counsel for appellant contended that the plaintiff may not be named as a third party for the purposes of compensation under the Motor Vehicles Act. It has been argued that it is the owner’s responsibility to compensate the plaintiff in such matters.

The counsel for respondent did not appear before the court to argue the matter and since, the case is pending for more than decade and several adjournment orders have been given to warrant the respondent side to appear and argue but to no avail.So, the  matter is reserved for judgement without giving further time.

The Gauhati High Court held the benefits of an insurance policy are limited to personal insurance coverage for the holder, and personal accident coverage is a contract between the insured and the insurer and is designed to benefit only the insured, not the borrower. Since automobile insurance is for personal accident claims, the insurance company cannot be held responsible for the compensation liability of the injured claimant who borrows the vehicle from the registered owner. Based on the Supreme Court decision, Oriental Insurance Company Ltd. Etc. Rajni Devi and others, Justice Nandi, stated that in the present case, the respondents only subrogated the position of the insured owner of the motorcycle. For this reason, the court allowed the appeal and rejected the compensation claim and set aside the order for the same as they were not entitled to the compensation awarded.

Click here to read the judgement

Judgement reviewed by- Bhaswati Goldar

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