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Auto Insurance 101

Auto Insurance 101

March 19, 2012
By webriver

All automobile insurance policies start out by declaring that the insurance company will pay damages if you become legally liable as a result of a motor vehicle collision. All the pages that follow that initial statement list the insurance company exceptions and exclusions. If driver A rear ends driver B, driver A, under tort law, is legally responsible to driver B. Driver A’s insurance company has no legal liability, under tort law, to driver B. Driver A’s insurance company’s legal obligation is to their insured, driver A, under contract law. Under tort law, driver A is responsible to driver B for damages driver A caused.

Driver A’s insurance company who wrote the policy that says we will pay all damages you are legally liable for could simply wait until driver B sues driver A, a jury returns a verdict and a judgment is rendered for a dollar amount. Then driver A’s insurance company could simply write a check. That would fulfill their legal obligation under their policy.

So why don’t insurance companies do that? They have found in time that it is much more cost effective for them to control the claim process from the onset of the collision. So when driver A rear ends driver B, driver A’s insurance company is going to contact driver B and attempt to control the claim process. Driver A’s insurance company’s goal is to keep the claim value as low as possible. Clients often mistake this distinction and believe that they are not being treated properly by the other driver’s insurance company and that their claim is against the other driver’s insurance company. It is not. The claim is against the other driver. If a lawsuit is filed in court, the lawsuit will identify the case as driver B versus driver A. The insurance company who is the 800 pound gorilla in the matter and the driving force behind the conflict is not even mentioned in the lawsuit. The insurance industry has been proactive to make sure the evidentiary rules that apply in court exclude any reference or discussion or mention of insurance in the case in front of the jury. Insurance companies do not want the jury to realize that an insurance company is behind driver A or that the insurance company is the driving force for why this case is in court.