Procedure for Filing A Motor Vehicle Accident Claim
In today’s time there is a huge expansion in the use of motor vehicles, be it for public or private purposes. The number of vehicles on the road keeps on increasing day-by-day. According to the Economic Survey of Delhi, the number of vehicles on road in Delhi was 1.9 crore on March 31, 2018, which showed an increase of 5.8% as compared to the previous year. With the increasing number of vehicles, the possibility of motor vehicle accidents also increases. As per the report on Road accident in India, 2018, a total of 1280 accidents and 415 deaths take place every single day.
If someone gets injured in an accident or there is any damage to the property of a person resulting from the accident then, the first step is to seek medical attention if required. Right after that the next step is to file an Accident Information Report (AIR) with the police and the file an insurance accident claim with their insurer.
Before discussing the procedure of filing a motor vehicle accident claim, let us understand that
What is motor insurance policy and why is it important?
A motor insurance is a protection policy which covers the policyholder in case of any monetary losses resulting from an accident, or any other damages which the insured vehicle has sustained.
A comprehensive motor insurance policy usually covers against the following:
- Any damage or loss to the insured vehicle sustained as a result of a natural calamity such as Earthquake, fire, floods, cyclone etc.
- Any loss or damage due to man-made calamities such as theft, terrorist activities, riots etc.
- Any damage or injury to the policyholder or his insured vehicle resulting from a motor vehicle accident
- Any loss, damage or injury (or death) caused to the third-party or the property of the third-party due to a motor accident by the policyholder.
Having motor vehicle insurance is important as:
- It pays for damages
- It reduces your liability
- It pays for your hospitalization, and
- It compensates your family after your demise.
Now the question arises that
Whether motor insurance is compulsory in India or not?
The answer to this is yes. Section 146 of the Motor vehicle Act, 1988 makes it compulsory for all vehicles to be secured under a suitable insurance policy before they go on the roads. Purchasing a comprehensive policy is not mandatory but having a third-party insurance plan is an important requirement which needs to be acquired for your vehicle to ply.
A motor vehicle insurance claim is of two types:
- First party claim
- Third party claim
A first party claim is filed with one’s own insurance agency, whereas, a third party claim is filed with the insurance provider of the other person.
Let us understand these with the help of examples: Mr. A’s car is destroyed due to a fire accident. In this case Mr. A will make a first party claim with his insurance agency to cover the damage and repairs and the insurer will compensate him according to his insurance policy.
Let us take another example: You cause an accident and as a result a person gets injured. Now here the injured person can file a third party insurance claim against your insurance company claiming compensation for his medical expenses.
The type of claim depends upon the type of accident, which party was at fault and the extent of the insurance coverage.
Who can apply for a claim?
Section 166 of the act specifies that the following people can apply:
- The person who has been injured due to the accident
- The owner of the damaged property
- If death has resulted from the accident, then the legal heirs of the deceased or,
- Any agent authorized by the injured person, or any or all the legal heirs of the deceased.
So, as we discussed above, the first step towards the insurance claims process is filing an AIR with the police. If you get injured in a motor vehicle accident or your vehicle gets damaged, then you are required to report the incident to your insurance company preferably within 24 hours of the accident.
If the accident is caused due to the third party’s fault and you get injured or your vehicle gets damage then in that case you are supposed to contact the insurance provider of the at-fault party.
You will be required to provide information regarding the cause of the accident and the degree of your wounds to your insurer.
After reporting the incident, the insurance agency will then initiate an inquiry regarding your claim. During this period, you should not attempt to move the vehicle from the spot of the incident without the authorization of the police. The insurance company may require you to provide them with photographs of your damaged vehicle, name of the witness if any, etc. Along with this you may also be required to submit your medical examination report by a doctor of your insurer’s choice in case if you are injured.
After determining the worth of your claim, the insurance agency will issue a settlement check. If the claim gets rejected or if you feel that the amount decided is not sufficient, then you can appeal to the insurance agency. An appeal may expect you to give additional data and proof about the accident.
There are several reasons due to which your claim can be rejected such as driving without a driving license, non-renewal of the insurance policy, delay in reporting the accident, etc. Whatever the case might be, you will be notified by the insurance company if your claim gets rejected. It then depends upon you whether you want to appeal the rejection of the claim or not.
There are also cases in which the injury is very serious or the accident results in the death of a person. In these situations the claim should be directly filed in the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal. A motor accident claims tribunal has been created by the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988 to provide speedy remedy to motor vehicle accident victims. Section 165 of the Act lays out the qualification required to be a member of the claims tribunal. These tribunals deal with claims regarding loss of life, damage to property or serious injury cases which are a result of motor accidents.
 Government of India, Report: Road Accidents in India, 2018 (Ministry of Road transport and Highways).
 Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 (59 of 1988), s. 146.
 Id , s. 166.
 Id., s. 165.
This Article is Authored by Swaranjali Kapoor, 2nd Year, BA.LLB Student of JIMS School of Law, Greater Noida (Affiliated to IP University, New Delhi).
Also Read – Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Act, 2019