Kantaben Lodhari’s husband was a sailor with a Gujarat based shipping company. In 2012, he along with 21 other sailors went missing, when their ship got caught in a storm and was lost at sea.
None of the sailors or the remnants of the ship were ever found. However, Kantaben had monetary hope in the form of an Insurance policy taken by the shipping company on behalf of the sailors.
The policy in such cases is usually a Group Personal Accident cover, which is taken by organizations to cover their employees in the event of an accident leading to their injury or death during the course of their duties. It often forms part of their Employee Benefits Programme
But in this case, the policy didn’t help Kantaben for many years.You see, the insurance company repudiated the shipping company’s insurance claim on the missing sailors. It refused to accept any liability on the sailor’s death since it had not received any proof or court order stating that he had passed away.
The problem here was that in Indian law, a missing person can only be declared dead seven years after their disappearance. And this needs to be done via a formal court declaration.
However, Kantaben went on to appeal this decision before the Junagadh Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission. The commission ended up ruling in the widow’s favor.
Observing that seven years had already passed since the sailor’s disappearance and that the widow had submitted the necessary documents, the commission ordered the insurance company to pay the widow ₹1 lakh with 6% interest from the date of filing of the complaint along with ₹3,000 for expenses.
And so nearly a decade later, Kantaben’s insurance claim was finally resolved.
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