I recently had a car accident and as I only had my learners permit my parent’s car insurance does not want to cover our car. The vehicle that I was driving had full coverage, is there any way that I can get the insurance to at least cover the other car involved in the accident?
Hi Cintia, Welcome to Legal.com and thank you for your question. Although the situation you describe arises from a car accident, yours is really an insurance question. When a potential claim arises, the first thing attorneys do is review the situation to determine the likelihood that the insurance underwriter, under the terms of the policy and applicable laws, will agree to cover the claim. Once a determination is made that the claim will be covered, the benefits of the policy become available. Importantly, these benefits include legal representation. In other words, the insurance company will retain counsel on the insured’s behalf, to defend the claim and (if appropriate) go about negotiating a settlement. When an insurance company denies coverage in a case where they should agree to cover the claim, their policy holder obtains a cause of action (right to sue) against the insurance company. In the case you describe, it sounds like coverage is being denied because of your learner’s permit. Without being able to review the policy (which is a contract between your parents and the insurance company) it is impossible to know if there should be coverage. If the policy specifically excludes drivers with learner’s permits, or below a certain age, or anyone other than named insureds, then arguably the insurance company is within its rights to deny coverage unless applicable ( most likely state) law says otherwise. So your first step would be to have the policy reviewed by an attorney familiar with insurance laws in your jurisdiction (state law in the United States; other laws in other countries). It would be really good advice for people to have contracts like insurance policies reviewed by an attorney, and for insureds to know the limitations of their policies before assuming they have coverage. The most common way to have an attorney “on retainer” these days is by membership through a legal services plan. These plans offer a number of benefits, including review of contracts you are thinking of signing. Think of the plans as legal insurance. Such plans are frequently available at work, and one of your parents might have this coverage. For families who don’t have this benefit available through work, some plans are available for direct purchase at very affordable prices. One such plan is offered by LegalShield. They can be purchase online. Review the cost and benefits at http://legalrecourse.legalshieldassociate.com (cut and paste the link). If the insurance company determines that there will be no coverage, then there is no coverage including providing an attorney for legal representation, negotiating or paying a portion of the damage (just the other person’s car). I can offer two personal stories on the subject of insurance coverage. One came from a house that I once owned in a city hit by a devastating hurricane. Some people lost their homes and their lives but I was very fortunate. I had minimal damage to my home – just a few thousand dollars. Prior to making my claim, I reviewed the policy. Wind damage alone was not covered, but damage caused by flying debris was. So I worded my claim to say that the damage was caused by debris driven by the storm, striking my home. Another time I was the attorney representing a young person who had an accident while transporting a child to an athletic event. My client was working as a nanny to the child. Because he did not think to have a rider added to his policy, to cover driving in support of his work, the insurance company denied coverage. They said the policy only covered personal transportation – not using the car in a way directly related to work. For these reasons, it is really important to not just buy the cheapest insurance policy available and to have the policy (face it, all insurance policies are “fine print”) reviewed by an attorney so you know what you’re getting, to know that your intended use is covered. In addition to the legal plans, you can also contact a local attorney and pay for an office consultation, to have the policy reviewed and be advised if coverage should be available. Sometimes a demand letter from an attorney disagreeing with the insurance company’s initial determination can change their mind. To find an attorney nearby, use Legal.com’s Find a Lawyer search tool http://legal.com/find-a-lawyer/. Look for attorneys practicing insurance law, and/or auto accident law, in your city. All the best, — Dave/Alden Law Group – Sacramento, CA