Auto Insurance adjusters are in the business of finding reasons to pay the injured as little money as possible. This is their job and I understand that. But once in a while, an insurance company employs tactics that are absolutely reprehensible. Today I encountered such a situation when a potential client called asking for a miami lakes car accident attorney.
I’ll call her Jessica. Jessica was a passenger in a car that was rear ended in a Miami Lakes car accident – so in no world could she be considered at fault. The client was a student and covered under her parents’ substandard auto insurance carrier. Her parents were calling the shots and asking questions (I always welcome questions from those concerned).
When I asked for Jessica’s proof of insurance, I was met with a common objection: why are we going through our insurance when Jess wasn’t at fault! To which, I explained the general no-fault law principles and that this was simply how the car accident laws works in Florida (i.e. essentially 80% the first $2,500.00 – $10,000.00 in medical bills has to be paid by one’s own auto insurance carrier – regardless of who is at fault). I was then told that they would call me back. What happened next was criminal.
Jessica’s parents spoke to their substandard insurance carrier. The insurance adjuster told them that if they brought a no-fault claim, that their rates would either go sky high – or they would be dropped altogether and that no other insurance company would ever insure them again. Florida Statutes 626.9541(1)(o)(3a) and (3b) specifically defines this tactic as an illegal and deceptive act.
According to the statute: [An auto insurance company cannot impose or request] an additional premium for a policy of motor vehicle liability, personal injury protection, medical payment, or collision insurance … or refus[e] to renew the policy solely because the insured was involved in a motor vehicle accident unless the insurer’s file contains information from which the insurer in good faith determines that the insured was substantially at fault in the accident (emphasis added).
Furthermore, if an insurer does charge a higher premium or refuses to renew a policy, they must notify the insured that they will be entitled to reimbursement of the higher premium amount or renewal if the policy holder can prove that driver involved in the accident was, among other things:
Lawfully parked; rear ended by another car headed in the same direction (and the insured was not convicted of a moving violation in connection with the accident); hit by a hit-and-run driver and reported to the police within 24 hours; adjudicated not to be liable in court; or if other facts are established that prove the driver in question was not at fault.
I explained this to the client’s parents and they said that they could not risk losing their auto insurance or afford to pay higher rates and so, even though Jessica was hurt, they would figure something else out. The scare tactics used by their substandard insurance carrier worked and as a result, Jessica will likely not receive the care that she needs nor receive any money for her pain and suffering.
This was, by no means, a barn-burner of a case. Jessica didn’t lose a limb. But that’s not the point. Her parents dutifully pay their insurance premiums to have access to certain benefits in situations like this. Studies show that those who sustain injuries (even minor ones) in car accidents greatly benefit and obtain better long-term results after receiving immediate therapy. Jessica was a sweet young girl, hurt due to the negligence of another, and should have received therapy – and some additional compensation – but her own insurance company deceived her parents in order to save a few dollars. Shame on them.