I’m seeing a disturbing trend. Actually, this shady insurance practice has been going on for a long time but I used to only see it with the… shall we say… less respectable insurance companies. Now, I’m seeing it across the industry.
Namely, insurance companies are knowingly hiding money from their own clients.
Let me share a recent story to help illustrate this frustrating reality…
A husband and wife were riding their motorcycle on a busy Colorado road. The wife was riding behind her husband. Out of nowhere, a car coming the opposite direction made a left-hand turn in front of them. They slammed into the car going full speed. Tragically, the husband died and the wife, Brenda, sustained catastrophic injuries.
Of course, the auto driver was uninsured. So, we started digging into Brenda’s coverage. Initially, her insurance company told her that she would be getting only $100,000 from her motorcycle’s policy. Thank goodness Brenda came to us because we discovered that she was owed a lot more.
Brenda called her insurance company and asked for all of the paperwork on all of the policies she owned. The insurance company told her that they could not release the paperwork due to the claim against the motorcycle policy.
A blatant lie!
Finally, we took the insurance company to court and discovered that every single one of Brenda’s vehicles had their own UIM policy, meaning we could access a lot more for her medical bills. In the end, we got $900,000 for Brenda. A far cry from the $100,000 that her own insurance company said she was owed.
Here’s Another Story
We have a client who was a passenger in her own car. A friend of hers was driving. Unfortunately, this friend drove off the road and slammed into a tree. He totaled her car and our client, Kim, sustained significant leg injuries. Even worse: the friend had no insurance.
Kim hired us to make sure she was getting everything she could to help with her rising medical bills and thank goodness she did.
Our first battle was to make her own insurance company pay the limits of the liability coverage she had on her car. Typically, liability coverage only pays for damages you cause to another person or car. But, because she was the passenger in the car and someone else caused her injuries, the liability policy on her car could be used for her own injuries. (Think of it this way: The insurance is on the car, not on the person. The car crashed and caused her injuries, so we could access the liability coverage on the car.)
Of course, we had to go back and forth with her insurance company to get the $100,000 from her own liability insurance, but we got it.
But we didn’t stop there…
We discovered that Kim was still living with her mom, so we could also use her mom’s insurance. How? Because she lived in her mom’s home, she was covered by her mom’s auto insurance policy, as well.
So, we wanted to know what insurance her mom had and if we could use it to help Kim. It should have been as easy as us calling the insurance company and saying, “Please send us Kim’s mom’s insurance policy paperwork so that we can figure out if there’s coverage that can help Kim.”
But of course, it wasn’t that easy. The insurance company sent us only partial paperwork, stalled, gave us the run-around, until they finally admitted there was coverage for Kim. When we finally got the paperwork, we discovered that her mom had UIM insurance that we could use for Kim’s care! Ultimately, we were able to get a total of $250,000 for Kim, much better than the original $100,000 she thought she could get.
And remember: this was their own insurance that they’d been paying for just in case something bad happened. When that bad thing happened, their insurance companies did everything they could to avoid paying!
Lessons to Take Away from These Stories
- First, make sure you have separate Underinsured Motorist (UIM) policies for each of your vehicles. If you just buy one UIM policy for all of your vehicles, you will have less coverage. You need separate UIM policies for each vehicle so that you can stack them on top of each other in case of a catastrophic accident.
- Second, hire an attorney to help you. If Kim and Brenda hadn’t hired us, they would have walked away with $100,000 each instead of the $250,000 and $900,000 they finally got.
If you’ve been in a car or motorcycle accident that wasn’t your fault, don’t ever take your insurance company’s word on what you’re owed. You need an attorney’s help to dig deeper into your policies and to ask all the right questions.