This could be the Gujarat Model for some villagers across India. In a bid to milk some insurance benefits, Ratanben Bhutadiya from a small village Memadpur, Banaskantha district, fought hard to claim insurance for a cow that was living because her old cow died shortly after the new purchase.
Living off a piece of land and by supplying milk from her cow got Ratanben to live a square life. However, the bare essentials being fulfilled were subject to seasonal hazards and of course, the cow’s milking days. “In order to make ends meet, she procured another cow and for this, she took a loan from Dena Bank under the Pashu Kisan Credit Card Scheme. However, as per bank rules, the purchase had to be insured,” explained Jitu Choudhary, social activist from Memadpur.
Meanwhile, her first cow died but sensing opportunity to milk some benefit, she tried to pass off the dead as the as the insured one. “When we went for inspection, we found that the cow had black paint on its head and its horns were bent in a deliberate manner. This was done to match the specifications of the cow that was insured. However, the claim was rejected as the specimen of the insured cow did not match with the dead one,” shared Banaskantha-based P J Chauhan who investigates dead cattle for National Insurance Company.
However, not one to let go, Ratanben escalated the matter and approached Palanpur’s consumer court to seek “justice.” The case dragged on for nearly two years. To strengthen her case, she submitted all insurance papers and argued that there must be “a mistake on the investigator’s side as the cow was checked at night.” She demanded Rs 40,000 insurance plus 12% interest for the delay. An additional Rs 10,000 was sought for the application process and mental harassment.
The Court Files:
National Insurance Company lawyer R.A. Thakkar presented the post-mortem report of the cow which confirmed that paint had been applied on the dead cow. On the basis of this and other contentions, the Palanpur Consumer Court ruled in favour of the insurance company.
Explaining further, Rupesh Khambati from the NIC added: “Any such claim is cross-checked with the tag fitted onto the animal. It is easy to detect a re-fitting or any such malpractice and in Ratanben’s case, she did affix the insured cow’s tag onto the dead one.”
Such fraud is not uncommon, shares retired police inspector N.B. Solanki, who investigates suspicious claims. “Since the insurance companies are closed on Saturdays and Sundays, people come for inspection from the company only on Mondays. During these two days, the dead animal is sent to the chamar (leather makers). When the owner comes with the ears, the rot has already set in and claiming insurance becomes easy by just showing the tag number.”
Adding that insurance companies are aware of such practices, he briefs how examining the ear tag in cases that come on Mondays is of prime importance.