The Delhi High Court has recently observed that the challenges posed by nature for persons with disabilities, ought to be mitigated by society as a whole.

The Court made this observation while dealing with a plea challenging the denial of a health insurance policy for a minor child who was suffering from a hearing disability.

The challenges posed by nature for persons with disabilities, ought to be mitigated by society as a whole which has to lend a helping hand and accommodate their needs.” the bench of Justice Pratibha M. Singh observed.

The Court also observed that society in general has a duty toward persons with disabilities and there is a need to consider and provide for specific products covering disabilities, for such persons.

In this case, the minor son of the Petitioners was prescribed Cochlear Implant and the Petitioners got the same implant done for their minor son on their own expense.

Since the Petitioners had a family insurance policy that included their elder daughter at that stage, renewal was sought by them, with the inclusion of their minor son as a co-insured.

However, the Respondent-Insurance Company refused to issue a policy on the ground that such a disability would not be covered by their underwriting policy.

Advocate Shyam D. Nandan appeared for the petitioner whereas CGSC Subhash Tanwar appeared for Union of India.

The Court noted that the counter affidavit of the Insurance Company showed that there is a categorical stand of the company that the company is in a position to issue a policy but by permanently excluding the pre-existing condition of the minor child.

The Court remarked that it would mean that the child of the Petitioner would be unable to obtain a health insurance policy at all in respect of his Bi-Lateral Hearing Loss.

“Prima Facie, in the opinion of this Court, this would be contrary to the provisions in favour of Persons with Disabilities under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016.”, the Court observed.

In the facts of the case, the Court issued notice to the Office of the Insurance Ombudsman and Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.

The Court directed the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India to consider the manner in which products can be designed for persons with hearing disabilities and persons with implants.

The Court further directed that the present case shall be escalated to the higher management of Respondent-Insurance Company including, if required, to the Board of Directors to also consider this matter as to how persons with disabilities ought to be accommodated by insurance companies.

Cause Title- Neeraj Mehta & Anr. v. Tata AIG General Insurance Company Ltd & Ors.

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