Flood losses: HC warns to freeze accounts of ‘unbothered’ insurance firms

Flood losses: HC warns to freeze accounts of ‘unbothered’ insurance firms

Srinagar: Warning the insurance companies not to “check its patience”, the J&K High Court Tuesday asked them to follow its orders on payment of compensation to flood-hit claimants of the state without further delay.
Else, a division bench headed by Chief Justice M M Kumar said it would freeze the accounts of the companies and appoint two senior lawyers for disbursement of claims.
“Please do not check our patience. If you insist on (survey or assessment reports), then we are going to initiate contempt proceedings against you. Can you tell a single case where you have paid 50 percent of the amount in accordance with the High Court directions?” the bench said when advocate Anil Bhan, representing National Insurance Company insisted that the companies have already appointed adequate number of surveyors.
“If you don’t have any substantial data to prove that you are complying with the spirit of the court directions, we will freeze your accounts and appoint two senior advocates to disburse the amount to the claimants,” the bench, also comprising Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey, said.
“We know it clearly that the companies want their own way to disburse the amount as per the assessment reports and want to defeat the Supreme Court and High Court orders, but they won’t be allowed to do so and shall be dealt with strictly,” the bench said.
On the submission by the insurance companies that they be given breathing space to implement the court directions, the bench declined to accept the request.
“More than breathing time has been given to you for filing data before the court. You had time to file SLP against the High Court order in the Supreme Court but want breathing space to file data before this court,” it observed hearing a Public Interest Litigation.
On September 26, the court had directed the insurance companies to pay 50 percent of insured amount for policies above Rs 25 lakh and 95 percent for policies below Rs 25 lakh as interim relief to the flood-affected traders.
Later on October 1, the court made the orders applicable to the cases of total destruction of houses and other properties as well to the motor vehicles.
As the matter came up before the bench, senior lawyer advocate Z A Shah underlined ‘tardy’ response by insurance companies, maintaining they were defeating the spirit of the court orders by insisting on survey or assessment reports.
Censuring the insurance companies for not acting “vibrantly” to pay amount to the claimants, the bench made it clear that if its directions were not implemented, it would “draw its weapon and use it against the companies.”
“The impression gathered so far is that the insurance companies are not bothered to comply with the court directions. They want to do the things and settle claims on the basis of their own principles,” the bench said.
“If you don’t understand the sober language of the court, we know how to handle the situation. We have enough weapons in our armoury to make you comply with the High Court directions,” the court said, observing flood “affected people are crying as they have not been paid the insured amount yet.”

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