Getting one's vehicle insured is just half the battle. The other half is to get the claim approved in case of an eventuality.
The word insurance generates the idea of protection or cover against any unprecedented threat. The Motor Vehicles Act of India mandates that every vehicle, two-wheeler, three-wheeler or four-wheeler plying on Indian roads must be insured. However, getting one's vehicle insured is just half the battle. Once the vehicle is insured, it is entitled to a claim in lieu of any damage to the insured, the range of which depends on the policy; whether the insurance is just a third party insurance (which is mandatory by law) or does it also include liabilities towards the first party?
Whenever there is damage to vehicle or the passenger(s) in it, one is advised to immediately notify the vehicle insurance company and the police. Many of the documents to be presented for claim are same as those needed during filing a first information report, FIR.
For example copy of licence, original copy of policy, copy of Police FIR, a copy of registration certificate and most importantly, a 'duly filled and signed claim form' are needed to be provided during application for a claim.
Additional documents required depend upon the type of claim or the incident which gives rise to a claim. Broadly there are three categories:
1. Theft of vehicle: All the keys of the car; a no trace report confirming that the vehicle isn't accessible.
2. Loss or damage to the vehicle in an accident: The original repair invoice in case of cashless claims and original repair estimates, repair invoice with payment receipt for non-cashless claims.
3. Legal liabilities claim as a result of third party litigations: Vakaalatnama, authorisation to the insurance company to take up the case on first party's behalf. Also copy of any legal notice that might have been served.
Once the claim has been registered, a customer service manager (CSM) would contact the claimant (generally within 24 hours). The documents are then checked by the CSM and verified with the original documents. It is important to notice that incomplete documentation can result in rejection of claim; therefore customers are advised to read the claim form for the documents required, and contact the insurance company for any further information.
After the documents have been verified, the CSM would make an estimate of cost of repairs on the vehicle, and give on spot approval after the assessment of the vehicle. Once the approval is obtained, the customer would not be liable to pay any amount up to the amount approved; the payment to garage would be settled between the garage and the insurance company.
However, any balance amount would have to be borne by the insured as per the terms and conditions of the insurance policy. The customer is also advised to weigh the opportunity cost of taking the claim against no claim bonus. No claim bonus can be used to get deductions in the forthcoming year's insurance premium.
Illustration: Dominic Xavier/Rediff.com