VanMeveren Law Group November 2017

Foundations 9 7 0

Do You Know What’s in Your Auto Policy?

Are you on the same page with your significant other when it comes to auto insurance?

When he tried to assert an underinsured motorist claim, State Farm denied the claim, advising that the insured’s friend had rejected additional underinsured coverage. The injured insured argued that he never gave his friend permission to limit his coverage, raising the question for the Colorado Supreme Court as to whether one named insured’s decision to reject coverage is binding on all insureds. The Colorado Supreme Court found that the friend had implied authority to reject underinsured coverage for their jointly owned vehicle, even though the injured friend did not specifically instruct or authorize the friend to reject the coverage. “Before getting into a vehicle, make sure that everyone on your auto policy is on the same page. Shared knowledge as to your insurance coverage limits can reduce a lot of hardship and frustration in the event of an accident.” A few important takeaways from this ruling: First, make sure you review your coverages with all named insureds on your policy. Put yourself in a position where everyone understands and is in agreement with the scope and limits on your coverage. Second, if you’re unsure as to whether you have underinsured coverage, contact your insurance agent immediately. And remember that insurance companies

In a recent case, my client was seriously injured at the hands of an uninsured motorist. After a comprehensive investigation of the at-fault driver’s background and assets, we determined our client’s only course of action was to make an uninsured motorist claim through her own auto coverage. While our client’s injuries were serious, she assured us that she had “full coverage” — coverage that was extensive enough to cover all of her losses. Unfortunately, during a recent policy renewal period, her husband chose to save a few dollars on their insurance premium and opted for much lower uninsured motorist limits. Our client was unaware of this policy change and confirmed with us that she never signed anything agreeing to lower coverage limits. The obvious question that comes up is whether any other insureds on your auto policy can make coverage changes without your knowledge, consent, or signature. Well, the short answer is yes. Other insureds on your policy can limit your coverage without your knowledge or permission. Our Colorado Supreme Court recently ruled on a similar issue in Johnson v. State Farm Insurance. In Johnson, two friends shared a vehicle and were both insured on the auto policy. One of the friends was seriously injured in a collision through no fault of his own.

must issue auto insurance policies in Colorado that provide a minimum level of underinsured motorist coverage. Further, this coverage must be offered in writing. If the insurer is unable to produce evidence that you rejected the coverage in writing, the coverage applies. Underinsured motorist claims can be tricky when dealing with a savvy insurance adjuster who may not be looking out for your best interests. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding the scope of your coverages. We are more than happy to take a look at your policy and give you the guidance necessary to protect your interests. Before getting into a vehicle, make sure that everyone on your auto policy is on the same page. Shared knowledge as to your insurance coverage limits can reduce a lot of hardship and frustration in the event of an accident.

–Bryan VanMeveren

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