Dog bite story

Mr. Amrutlal P. Patel, who was residing at village Bhadol, Gujarat, died on the 93rd day of hydrophobia on 9 April 1982 after he had been bitten by a dog. He left behind his widow, Mrs. Joyitiben Patel, and 4 children, of whom 3 were minors. Mr. Patel had taken three Life Insurance policies with Accident Benefit Schemes for a total amount of Rs. 35,000/- (Rs. 10,000, Rs. 20,000/- and Rs. 5,000) from the LIC.

However, after his death, on Mrs. Patel’s claim, LIC paid Rs. 35,000/- but repudiated the accident benefit on the ground that Mr. Patel had not died within 90 days (as stipulated in the LIC policies), but died 2 days later, i.e. after 92 days, and that no liability arose on the part of LIC.

Mrs. Patel filed a civil suit at Ahmedabad claiming Rs. 35,000/- as accident benefit from LIC. CERS intervened on behalf of the public. On 26 September 1986, due to the intervention of CERS, LIC ultimately agreed to pay Rs. 35,000/- as ex gratia to the widow.

CERS did not let the story end there but researched the matter thoroughly. It requested for court rulings of the USA, from Social Action Groups, on the specific issue whether such a condition in insurance policies was legal and valid.

On the basis of the materials and judgments, CERC prepared a representation to the then Minister of State for Finance. He was requested to examine the representation, so that the time limit of 90 days and 180 days was scrapped from accident insurance policies. LIC has now revised the condition of time limit from 90 days to 120 days.

CERS has thus pursued the cause of aggrieved policy holders who were deprived of their legitimate claims by LIC on frivolous pleas such as suppression of material facts or on technical grounds such as death after the ‘deadline’.

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