Tripura High Court Rules Comprehensive Insurance Policy Covers Pillion Riders of Third-Party Vehicles

Recently, the Tripura High Court ruled that a pillion rider on a third-party vehicle is eligible to receive compensation from the insurance company of the at-fault vehicle if it holds a ‘comprehensive insurance cover’.

The court determined that in cases where an accident involving a pillion rider of another vehicle occurs due to the insured vehicle’s fault, the responsibility to compensate the pillion rider lies with the insurance company rather than the owner of the insured vehicle.

The bench led by Justice Biswajit Palit emphasized that if the owner of the insured vehicle holds a ‘comprehensive vehicle policy’ covering third-party risks, the insurance company cannot evade liability to compensate for losses incurred by third parties, including pillion riders, due to the insured vehicle’s fault.

Citing the Supreme Court’s ruling in National Insurance Company Limited vs. Balakrishnan and Anr. (2013) 1 SCC 731, the High Court underscored that once the vehicle owner’s policy is comprehensive, the insurance company is obligated to provide compensation to pillion riders of third-party vehicles.

The observation of the Apex Court in Balakrishnan and anr case came to decide upon the liability of the insurance company to cover the risk of the occupants of the third-party car. The Court held that since the insured car had a ‘comprehensive policy cover’ and not the ‘Act policy’, therefore the occupants of the third-party car would be entitled to receive compensation from the insurance company in the event of damage caused to the occupants due to the fault of the insured vehicle.

In the current case, as the Motor Accident Tribunal (MAT) did not establish whether the insured vehicle was covered by a comprehensive policy, the High Court instructed the MAT to ascertain this status and issue a fresh judgment within three months.

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