Your Own Car Insurance Company is Not Your Friend

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Most people don’t realize this, but your own car insurance company, the one you pay premiums to to protect you, is your adversary, not your friend. You must treat them like an adversary whenever you are involved in a car wreck, even when it is not your fault. If you have purchased a non-mandatory type of coverage called “uninsured motorist coverage,” the minute you attempt to file a claim under that coverage your own insurance company and even your own insurance agent become your adversaries. Their sole goal at that point is not to pay you one cent under the uninsured motorist coverage. It doesn’t matter that you may have been an insured with that particular company for 40 years; these insurance companies have no loyalty whatsoever. How else do you think the insurance company has made literally billions of dollars in a down economy?

For example, State Farm, one of Georgia’s largest car insurers, managed a $777 million profit nationally in 2009. In just one month, February 2012,Progressive made $106.3 million in profit for the company, up 41 percent from the month before. Profits at GEICO were $587 million in 2011. These numbers are, obviously, nothing to sneeze at.

One way in which car insurance companies build up their other-worldly profits is through denial of claims, especially uninsured motorists claims. This type of coverage is insurance you buy to protect yourself in case you are injured either by another motorist who has no insurance at all (uninsured) or a motorist who has minimum mandatory insurance which is not enough to cover your medical bills. Little do you know that when you voluntarily pay those extra insurance premiums, the car insurance carrier will do everything in its power to avoid having to pay you even a dime. It becomes all out war and nasty litigation.

I am currently representing clients in two separate lawsuits, one in DeKalb County and one in Fulton County, against their uninsured motorist carrier, which happens to be State Farm Insurance Company in both cases. One issue that frequently arises in this type of litigation is whether the insured gave his own carrier “notice as soon as practicable” that he intends to file a claim on his own coverage. Many if not most citizens have no idea their insurance policy, which is a one-way contract, requires them to do this if they want coverage lately. This means if you are involved in a car wreck, even if it’s not your fault, you must call your own car insurance carrier and let them know. Your policy may require you to put this notice in writing. I suggest you do so anyway to protect yourself. Get a copy of the police report as soon as it is available and send it to your insurance carrier.

This is true even if you weren’t in your own car at the time. For example, if you were struck by a car as a pedestrian, and the car who struck you is unknown because he fled the scene. You would then have a claim against “John Doe” which your insurance carrier then defends under the name of “John Doe.” Then your own car insurance company does everything in its power to keep you from getting a red cent on your claim under your uninsured motorist coverage. Trust me. There is an entire body of Georgia case law that often favors the insurance company over the insured (you).

Unfortunately, our Georgia appellate courts have been way too kind and generous to the insurance companies, finding that the numerous exclusions in these policies that essentially eat up the whole policy, do not violate the public policy of Georgia. One of the most recent pronouncements in this regard from the Georgia Court of Appeals says:

“Exclusions are enforceable in insurance policies generally, except when public policy mandates otherwise. Competent parties are free to choose, insert, and agree to whatever provisions they desire in a contract, including insurance contracts, unless prohibited by statute or public policy.”

Kovacs v. Cornerstone Nat. Ins. Co., A12A0821, 2012 WL 5076294 (Ga. Ct. App. Oct. 19, 2012). It seems to me the selling of this coverage is, at the very least, an act of fraud because when these insurance companies sell it to you and gleefully accept your premium check, they don’t tell you: “By the way…as soon as you try to make a claim on this policy we officially will become your enemy and our sole job at that point is to do everything in our power to keep you from ever collecting a dime under our policy.” Shouldn’t they be required to disclose this, at a minimum?

I am contemplating litigation for fraud against some of these car insurance companies. I have just had it with the way they treat their own insureds, like common criminals.