Sept.18: SETTLED IN COURT
Hotel liable for theft of guestâ€™s carÂ
Sapan Dhawan entrusted his car to valet parking at Taj Mahal Hotel in Delhi and was given a token. After dinner when he sought the car keys he was told that the vehicle had been stolen. United India Insurance, with whom the car was insured, paid Sapan Rs. 2.8 lakh.
Thereafter, the insurance company and Sapan filed a joint complaint before the Delhi State Commission against Taj Mahal Hotel. They contended that the hotel had failed in its duty to take care of the car while its owner was having dinner. The hotel argued that it did not charge any fee for the valet parking facility and the parking tag clearly mentioned that the vehicle was being accepted at the ownerâ€™s risk.
The State Commission ruled in favour of the complaints and directed the hotel to reimburse United India Rs. 2.8 lakh with 12% interest and Rs. 50,000 towards litigation costs. It also ordered Taj to pay Rs. 1 lakh to Sapan as compensation. Taj appealed to the National Commission.Â
The National Commission observed that though there is no separate payment for valet parking, the hotel lures customers by providing this service. The hotel owed a duty to the owner to ensure the safekeeping of his vehicle. It upheld the State Commissionâ€™s order but reduced the interest rate to 9%.
Point of law
By stating that parking was â€˜at ownerâ€™s riskâ€™ a hotel cannot absolve itself of liability in the event of theft or damage.
[Source: The order of the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, New Delhi dated 5 February 2018 on First Appeal no. 440 of 2016]
Did You Know
Aviation regulator DGCA has told Delhi High Court that it does not permit the practice of overbooking of flights. Airlines are liable to compensate passengers who are denied boarding despite having confirmed tickets.
United India ordered to pay full claim amount
Kishor Trivedi held a mediclaim policy of United India Insurance Co. Ltd. having a coverage of Rs. 4.25 lakh. He experienced chest pain and was advised surgery. The bill came to Rs. 2,71,107. The insurance company paid Rs. 2,40,500 to the hospital in view of the cashless facility, arbitrarily deducting Rs. 30,607.Â Kishor had also incurred pre and post-hospitalization expenses. Accordingly, he lodged a claim of Rs. 40,353 which included these expenses and the deduction of Rs. 30,607.
However, the insurer released only Rs. 7,427 deducting Rs. 32,926 without giving any reason. Aggrieved, Kishor approached Consumer Education and Research Society (CERS), Ahmedabad.Â A complaint was lodged before the Consumer Forum.
According to the insurance company, the deduction of Rs. 32,926 included a deduction of Rs. 27,634 as per the PPN (Preferred Provider Network) package. Also, it had flimsy excuses for rejecting some medicine bills and the consultancy fee.
The forum observed that there was no contract between the complainant and insurance company with respect to the PPN package.Â Further, it said the expenses on medicines and consultancy fees were also payable. It ordered the insurer to pay Rs. 32,926 to the complainant with 9% interest. The insurance company also had to pay Rs. 2,500 as compensation and Rs. 2,000 towards litigation charges.
Point of law
An insurance company should not try to dodge paying the full claim amount on flimsy grounds.
[Source: The order of the Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Ahmedabad City, dated 27 March 2018 on Complaint no. CC/47/2016]