As an injury attorney, I get a lot of phone calls from people who have been in car accidents involving only property damage, meaning that nobody was injured as a result of the accident. While most personal injury lawyers don’t handle property damage only claims, our firm will handle them in certain circumstances, and if we can’t handle the claim, we at least like to give the caller some information to help them in handling the claim themselves.
However, I’ve noticed an alarming trend over the last year wherein insurance companies are denying property damage claims that clearly should be paid. Once upon a time, insurance companies were quick to settle a property damage claim so that they could get a release signed which prevented subsequent injury claims. But, it looks like billions in yearly revenue for these greedy insurance companies isn’t sufficient, and many of them seem to be resorting to unethical tactics to further line their pockets with the money that should go to pay rightful property damage claims.
For example, I got a call the other day from someone who was rear-ended by another driver. The police report clearly put the other driver at fault, yet the insurance company denied the claim for property damages, claiming that the “driver wasn’t insured under the policy.” The driver was an adult who had borrowed his father’s car, and because the driver of the car lived with the parents in the past (4 years ago), they claimed he wasn’t a covered driver. You see, most insurance policies don’t extend coverage to persons living in the household UNLESS the person is explicitly named as an insured under the policy.
This is to prevent coverage for teenage drivers whose parents haven’t added them to the policy (and paid the additional premiums for having teenage drivers). However, these exclusions apply only to drivers “living” in the household…not those that lived in the household at one point. Under the policy, the driver should have been covered, but they denied insurance coverage.
Unethical Insurance Company Tactic: Deny the claim and make the claimant prove insurance coverage.
You see, by denying the claim, it forces the claimant to show that the driver was insured, usually requiring the claimant to find an attorney to handle the claim. But, most injury attorneys don’t handle property damage only claims because they can’t make any money…which means that the claimant must then pay an attorney out of their own pocket to deal with the insurance company.
Unfortunately, most claimants don’t have the money to do this, and it’s often cheaper to just pay for the vehicle damage themselves. However, our office is looking for ways to assist people who face these type of unethical insurance company tactics. We are currently working on publishing a free book about handling property damage claims.
In the mean time, if you have a property damage only car accident claim, please feel free to call our San Antonio car accident lawyers. In some circumstances we can accept these claims, and if not, we can give you some information to help you deal with the insurance companies tactics.