Can I sue my insurance agent for messing up my coverage?
Q. I was recently involved in a serious car accident caused by a person with no insurance. When I made a claim against my own insurance company for uninsured motorist coverage I was astonished to learn that my uninsured motorist coverage is a fraction of what I thought it was. I was further astonished to learn that I had no medical pay coverage. Do I have a case against my insurance agent for professional negligence when I was under the impression at all times that I had full coverage?
A. That depends upon express statements made to you by your insurance agent. By express statement I mean a statement in writing or a statement made in the presence of a third party witness confirming what you believed.
There are various definitions of full coverage and the burden is upon you as the insured to make sure you understand what coverage or coverages you are paying a premium for. The uninsured motorist law, effective October 31, 2001, provides wide discretion to auto insurance companies to limit the amount of coverage that must be offered. In fact, the law does not require an insurance company to include uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage or both uninsured and underinsured motorist coverages.
Prior to the enactment of this law, insurance companies were required to offer uninsured/underinsured in an amount equal to the liability coverage of every auto insurance policy issued in the state unless there was an express written rejection the same. The issue of medical coverage is also dictated to the premium paid for such specific coverage. Medical pay coverage is an absolute bargain in contemporary American society where many people have no medical insurance and those that do have deductibles, co-pays, and other limitations that fail to provide full coverage. The cost of medical pay coverage up to $30,000.00 is small compared to the protection it affords; that is, it provides payment for any out-of-pocket expenses incurred as a result of injuries sustained while operating or occupying your motor vehicle.
Since the greatest risk of injury in society is that caused by motor vehicles it is imperative that you understand what coverages you need, what the premiums for those coverages will be, and what additional coverages are available through the auto liability company and/or its agent. The failure of the agent to procure the coverage that he/she has promised may give rise to a claim against said agent or company. Further information is required in your case and you are well advised to contact competent counsel without delay.
If you have had a car accident and need some help figuring it all out, give me a call and I can help
By Robert J. DiCello