Make lifetime insurance for vehicles mandatory: Madras HC

CHENNAI: Why shouldn’t the government amend the Motor Vehicles Act to make lifetime insurance cover for vehicles mandatory, asked the Madras high court on Wednesday, posing a series of questions to Union and state governments. It said despite the law making it mandatory for vehicles to have a valid insurance policy, there were a large number of accidents involving vehicles without an insurance cover.lifetime insurance for vehicle

At present the insurance cover for vehicles comes with a validity of one year, and the policy needs to be renewed every year. Many vehicle owners fail to renew the policy, making it difficult for accident victims or their families to get compensation in case of accidents involving such vehicles.

The court was passing interim orders on an appeal filed by an insurance company against the order of a Motor Accident Claims Tribunal awarding compensation to a person injured in a road accident. “It should be everybody’s endeavour to prevent accidents, ply vehicles with relevant insurance coverage and to see that the accident claim awards are paid in time, without any problems, to the victims,” said Justice N Kirubakaran.

The matter relates to a man who suffered 45% disability after he was hit by a tanker lorry in January 2012 while he was on his way to Thatchur from Ponneri, near Chennai. The accident claims tribunal in Ponneri asked Oriental Insurance Company Limited to pay a compensation of 2.24 lakh to the man.

The company moved the high court challenging the order. It said the lorry that was involved in the accident was being operated with an expired insurance policy and hence it was not liable to pay any compensation. The court admitted the appeal, but directed the company to deposit the compensation amount within two weeks.

The court said in the absence of any mechanism to verify whether a vehicle plying on the road has a valid insurance policy or not, it would be appropriate to make the vehicle owners go for life time insurance coverage. Justice Kirubakaran then suo motu impleaded the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority, Union ministry of law, justice and company affairs, Union ministry of road and surface transport, state transport department and Tamil Nadu DGP as respondents and directed them to file replies to 10 questions regarding insurance coverage of vehicles.The questions included: How many vehicles registered across the country did not renew their insurance policies? Was it true that around one-third of the vehicles did not have an insurance policy? Was there any mechanism to check whether the vehicle owners were paying the premium regularly? In case of default, did the insurance companies inform the authorities and were the authorities seizing the uninsured vehicles regularly?

The judge also asked what other measures were required to make insurance coverage fool-proof. The matter has been posted to March 3 for further hearing.


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