BEWARE OF EXCLUSIONS IN AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE POLICIES
Heiting & Irwin
By: Dennis R. Stout
My office was recently contacted by a young woman on a clear liability, rear-end automobile accident. She was driving “her” vehicle (one of many insured by the family) and she assumed she was an insured driver. Wanting to immediately obtain a replacement vehicle (rental car) she contacted “her” insurance company, only to told she had no coverage. After a little research, it was determined she was an EXCLUDED DRIVER on all vehicles insured by the family.
Mistake or not, this driver is now defined by Civil Code Section 3333.4 (Prop.213) as an uninsured driver with limited rights to recovery of damages. Lacking coverage from “her” insurance coverage, she can immediately recover nothing. She must now wait to recover damages from the adverse driver/insurance company, and being uninsured and unable to establish her financial responsibility as required by the financial responsibility laws of this state (California), she can only recover her economic damages (medical expenses, lost earnings, property damage, loss of use of vehicle) but cannot recover non-economic damages for pain, suffering, inconvenience, physical impairment, disfigurement, and other non-pecuniary damages. There are a couple of exceptions to this, but generally this individual is limited in her recovery and must wait for the other insurance company to evaluate the case.
The moral to this story is make sure you and appropriate family members are insured drivers on your automobile policy and are not EXCLUDED DRIVERS for whatever purpose. Insured drivers can recover all damages sustained in a motor vehicle accidents, not just a few.
The attorneys at Heiting and Irwin are experienced in evaluating your insurance policy(s) and coverages pursuant to those policies. If you have any injury related claim, including insurance claims, contact us at your convenience for a free evaluation.