Articles Posted in Insurance Companies

You are standing at a rental car counter and the rental agent asks you if you want to purchase car insurance on the vehicle you are renting. Should you purchase the insurance? Does the insurance you purchase for your personal automobile cover a rental car?

The car rental company will likely tell you that buying additional insurance will give you “peace of mind” or that the insurance you purchase through them has “no deductible” which can save you in the case of a car accident.

It is a good idea to check with your insurance company about your own policy because policies can vary from state-to-state and you want to make sure you are adequately insured. Sometimes even your credit card company will reimburse you for your deductible if you are involved in a motor vehicle accident in a rental car.

Non-Owned Car Coverage

When checking with your insurance agent, be sure to ask the question, “Do I have Non-Owned Car Coverage.”

We were reading a court decision, Chandler v. Geico Indem. Co, 2011 WL 5864808 (Fla. Nov. 23, 2011) in which the case decided the question, “Does Geico’s Non-Owned Car Coverage cover motor vehicle accident injuries caused by the negligent use of a rental car even though the driver of the rental car was not an authorized driver under the rental car contract?”

In this case, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that the rental car was a “temporary substitute auto” under the insured’s automobile insurance policy and therefore Geico was liable for injuries.

The case arose when Kutasha Shazier rented a car from Avis because her auto was in the repair shop. The rental car contract stated that Shazier was not authorized to allow additional drivers of the rental car unless Avis provided prior written approval.

Shazier’s personal car insurance with Geico provided “Non-Owned Car Coverage” to cover a temporary substitute auto not owned by Shazier but temporarily used with the permission of the owner.

Shazier lent the rental car to Tercina Jordan who was involved in a single-car accident in which one passenger was killed and several others were injured. The injured passengers and the deceased passenger’s estate filed a lawsuit against Shazier and Jordan. Geico, Shazier’s insurer argued that they did not have to cover damages because the rental car was not a temporary substitute because Jordan did not have Avis’ permission to drive the vehicle.

The court ruled that the rental car qualified for insurance under Geico’s “temporary substitute auto” policy and even though it was not owned by the insured person it could be considered an “owned auto” and the insurer must cover the insured and any person using the vehicle that Shazier had given permission to.

How a Personal Injury Attorney can Help You in a Car Accident

Even though you may large insurance premiums, your insurance company may not one to pay a legitimate claim or they might want to lessen your award. A Seattle personal Injury attorney can help you fight insurance companies after your accident. You will likely receive a greater award if you hire a qualified and experienced lawyer to represent you. And, in a complex case like the one we described above, hiring a personal injury attorney is absolutely essential.

This information is provided by Washington Injury Attorney blog, a service of The Farber Law Group. We are a personal injury law firm representing clients with car accident injury claims throughout the greater Seattle-Bellevue-Tacoma metropolitan area and throughout the Pacific Northwest. We provide FREE and CONFIDENTIAL case evaluations so contact us today.

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Automobile Accident Questions
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We get this question a lot. You lend your car to a friend or your roommate borrowed your car without permission and they crashed your vehicle and perhaps even injured another person in the process. “Who is liable for damages when someone else was driving my car?”

If someone else is driving your car and is involved in a motor vehicle accident, your car insurance will pay for the damages. Car insurance is generally with the car and not the driver. Regardless of who was driving your vehicle, your car insurance policy is considered the primary policy.

Of course there are exceptions to this and scenarios that involve claims that exceed the coverage amount.

One case that recently settled was Roberts V. Deane in California. (Citation: Roberts v. Deane, No. 2:10-cv-06354 (C.D. Cal. July 8, 2011).) In this case, Nicole Deane was driving a car owned by her friend Sandy Robert’s father and Sandy was a passenger in the vehicle. While driving, Deane attempted to pass a slower moving vehicle in a no-passing zone and she ended up in a head-on collision with a pickup truck. Tragically, Sandy Roberts was killed in the car accident and a couple of passengers in the pickup truck suffered serious injuries.

Manuel Mosqueda, 55, a pickup truck passenger, suffered multiple blunt-force trauma injuries, a head injury, fractures to his ribs and back injuries. His medical expenses were over 100,000 and he has future medical expenses which may run up to 100,000. He also experienced loss of present and future earnings of around 250,000
Another passenger in the pickup truck, Karla Reyes, 30, suffered a “hangman’s fracture” which is a hyperextension injury that can occur when the face or chin strike an object. This is a common injury when a person who is involved in a motor vehicle accident strikes the windshield or the dashboard. Reyes suffered blunt force injuries to her abdomen, spine, chest and thorax and now lives with severe neck pain. Her breast was also disfigured in the accident. Her medical expenses were calculated at 64,200 with future medical expenses estimated at $150,000.

After the accident Reyes and Mosqueda filed a negligence lawsuit asking for compensation for their damages.

Robert’s parents filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of themselves and their son’s estate. A wrongful death lawsuit can be filed on behalf of a deceased loved one when another person’s or entities negligence caused the death of a loved one.

All parties to the lawsuit settled before it went to trial. In this case, Deane had a $2.6 million insurance policy limit and her insurance paid $2.2 million to the Roberts plaintiffs and $400,000 to Reyes and Mosqueda. The Roberts also recovered $600,000 from their own underinsured motorist policy. Additional proceeds from the Roberts policy included a payment of $100,000 to the Roberts, $100,000 between Mosqueda and Reyes, and $100,000 to three occupants of the pickup truck who did not file claims.

This case is an example of when you should hire an attorney because of the complexities of the claim, the multiple claimants and two auto insurance policies.

This information is provided by Washington Injury Attorney, a service of The Farber Law Group. We represent people who have been seriously injured in motor vehicle accidents caused by the negligence of another. With our help, you may recover compensation for your damages.

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Some of the states have been prodding the insurance companies to clean up their acts. In Georgia, United Healthcare has been fined $750K for delaying payments on health claims. The Insurance Commissioner Jon Oxendine directed United Healthcare and its sister companies to pay the fines. Says Oxendine, “It is unfortunate that fines must be imposed to encourage compliance, consumers and doctors deserve prompt payments.”

UnitedHealthcare says it processes 97 percent of its claims within 15 days.

This information is provided by Washington Injury Attorney blog, a service of The Farber Law Group. We take on insurance companies to insure that you are properly compensated for your injury accident.

Medical malpractice victims and their families traveled to Washington DC this week to pressure Congress not to take away their rights as work is being done on a national health-care bill. The victims — many of them seriously injured by medical negligence — are asking Congress not to limit their ability to redress wrongs that have been done to them.

An article on the Common web-site told about the families from nine states, including victims of catastrophic injury due to medical malpractice, who met with lawmakers. Congress has been attempting to reduce malpractice awards of patients in an effort to reduce health care costs. Says David Arkush, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division, “Congress should work on curing this epidemic [medical malpractice and negligence], not compounding the damage by shielding bad doctors and limiting the rights of victims.”

Every year 98,000 people die of medical errors. Obstetrics and birth injury malpractice can be some of the most noteworthy because the damages last a life time. Parents who have severely damaged or injured child due to negligence during child birth may have a life time of educational and medical expenses and putting caps on awards can severely limit the care a family obtains for their child.

With the economy suffering, people are buying fewer new cars. Besides having an impact on the auto industry, it also affects the insurance industry because insurance companies charge higher premiums for new cars.

A report by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners found that the cost of insuring a car decreased an average of 1.7% in 2006, the year the study covered. In 2006, Washington DC had the highest average insurance premiums with an average cost of $1164 for insuring a car. Washington DC is followed by New Jersey ($1,152) and Louisiana ($1,094).

Washington State

Where does Washington State fall in the list of car insurance expenditures? Washington State ranks 17 with an average expenditure for car insurance of $817 in 2006.

In Washington State, insurance companies have a duty to conduct their business in “good faith” when they process claims of the people that they insure. Good faith is a concept that is important in law; Good faith simply means that the insurance company should conduct themselves and their business with honesty and morality in their conduct.

An insurance company acting in “bad faith” is violating their contractual obligation to their policyholders and, in the case of “bad faith,” the policy holder may sometimes sue the insurance company.

Examples of bad faith include:

Los Angeles based Farmers Insurance, a subsidiary of Zurich Financial Services, has lost a $130 million jury verdict to homeowners who alleged the company breached their contract and showed bad faith and fraud in underpaying on claims. The company failed to pay contractors for overhead and profits.

The class action suit contained 76,000 people who averaged $575 in unpaid bills.

A Lawton, Oklahoma jury awarded the homeowners $50 million for breach-of-contract, $50 million for bath faith and $30 million in punitive damages.

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