Is it Fair to Go Through Your Own Insurance Company if You Were Not At Fault an Uninsured Motorist Accident?

by Barry P. Goldberg, A Professional Law Corporation
Contact

Barry P. Goldberg answers the question “Why should I go through my own insurance company when I was not at fault for the accident?” Most clients hit by an uninsured or underinsured motorist are outraged when they learn that they must make a claim with their own insurance company. Many accident victims are concerned that their insurance premiums will rise and they will be charged for being in an accident. It is common for such victims to be concerned that the uninsured driver will get away "Scott Free" and that they should not have to pay for his failure to obtain at least minimum required liability insurance.

While it does not seem “fair” at first blush, there is some logic to the whole “Financial responsibility Law” structure. Most significantly, the law anticipates just these kinds of “uninsured” accidents---that is exactly why you have been paying a separate premium for Uninsured Motorist coverage. In fact, most people do not realize that the Uninsured Motorist Law (Insurance Code §11580) in California pre-dated other laws mandating liability insurance. The way the laws are structured, if you were not at fault for the accident, you will not be charged for an "at-fault" accident merely because you submitted an Uninsured or Underinsured motorist claim.

On the other hand, Uninsured motorists will be punished apart from your accident claim. First, the California Department of Motor Vehicles will suspend the driving privileges for an uninsured driver involved in an automobile accident for at least one year. That is why it is vitally important that all automobile accidents be immediately reported to the California Department of Motor Vehicles. It is a very common misconception that your own insurance company will make such a report on your behalf---they will not! Once the California Department of Motor Vehicles investigates the insurance for all drivers involved in accidents regardless of fault, if they determine that a driver was without liability insurance, that driver's license is automatically suspended for one year. (Even if a non-at fault driver with insurance fails to properly report the accident, his or her license will be suspended for a year!) Reporting the accident is the vital link that permits the Department of Motor Vehicles to enforce the Financial Responsibility laws.

In addition, if your Uninsured Motorist insurer pays you for an at fault driver who was uninsured, it will seek to recover all of the money paid to you directly from the uninsured driver. This is called "subrogation." California insurers have become more aggressive and creative than ever in suing and recovering money from uninsured drivers than ever before. The uninsured driver will likely be held accountable for many times the amount of your Uninsured Motorist coverage premium. That is one of the reasons that Uninsured Motorist coverage is relatively inexpensive for the extensive protection it provides.

Finally, your own insurance company is more likely to honor and cooperate in evaluating your claim. Not only are you a valued customer, but there are statutory and common law obligations that require your insurer to act promptly, fairly and in good faith with you. Why does this matter? It matters because claim presentation more often than not goes smoothly. As an insured, you are often given the benefit of the doubt. There can be severe penalties levied against an insurer that fails to deal in "good faith" with its own insured. As a result, uninsured motorist claims are concluded more promptly and with a better financial result than a comparable "third-party" action.

 

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Barry P. Goldberg, A Professional Law Corporation | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Barry P. Goldberg, A Professional Law Corporation
Contact
more
less

Barry P. Goldberg, A Professional Law Corporation on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):
hide

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.

Security

JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.
Feedback? Tell us what you think of the new jdsupra.com!