The shocking and sad news about the passing away of Cyrus Mistry in a car accident has brought to the limelight that many people don’t wear their seat belts, especially when occupying the rear seat of a vehicle. The question arises - does an insurance company pay the claim if the passengers or driver were not wearing seat belts at the time of an accident? Experts say that in such cases the insurers might not deny a claim but it amounts to negligence on the part of a policyholder.
“An insurer should not repudiate a claim even if the person sitting on the back seat was not wearing the seat belt. But it will be considered as contributory negligence on the part of the policyholder or occupant. Also, airbags make for secondary protection as seat belts are the primary protection. Therefore, it is advisable that everyone wears seatbelts because airbags may not get deployed if you are not strapped,” says Adarsh Agarwal, Chief Distribution Officer (Corporate Business), Digit General Insurance.
Ashwini Dubey, Head - Motor Insurance Renewals, Policybazaar.com, agrees, “There is no law that says that if a person (either a driver or a co-passenger) isn't wearing a seat belt and happens to die or get injured/disabled in a road accident will not get the insurance compensation. Rather it is advisable for everyone to ensure the safety of the co-passengers seated in a car, the vehicle owner must buy an add-on passenger cover under their comprehensive car insurance policy. Opting for additional protection would increase your premium payments by an insignificant margin but this rider ensures the complete safety of everyone inside the vehicle.”
Does a personal accident cover co-passengers in case a person dies in a car accident? “Under the motor insurance policy, it is mandatory that the vehicle owner (either two wheeler-four wheelers) has a personal accident cover. A personal accident cover under the motor insurance policy will pay for the compensation in case of bodily injuries, death, or any permanent disability resulting due to the accident. In case of accidental death or total disability, the insurance company will pay the entire sum insured to the nominee. To ensure coverage for the passenger seated in your car, you can buy a passenger add-on cover by paying an extra premium. This cover can be availed for up to three co-passengers seated in the car,” adds Dubey.
Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari said on Tuesday that he will make wearing seatbelts mandatory for all car passengers – including the ones sitting in the back seat. He further said there will be a seatbelt beep system in place if a passenger is not wearing one.
“After the death of Cyrus Mistry, today the government has taken a big decision for the safety of the backseat passengers. A seat belt is required for the back seat,” Gadkari said while addressing a media event. He attributed this decision to former Tata Sons chairman Cyrus Mistry’s death in a car accident on September 4. The Union Minister said, “Because of the death of Cyrus Mistry in a car accident, we have taken a decision that there will be a seatbelt beep system for the rear seats also in vehicles.”
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