Collision coverage not available for insured in unlicensed driver accident

by Mandy Hicks

Most people who own an automobile know that it is important to obtain a copy of the insurance policy. However, many consumers do not fully understand all of the different options that may be available to them, much less the many limitations and exclusions contained in a typical policy.

When an accident happens, a misinformed consumer can be extremely surprised and disappointed to find out what exactly is and, perhaps more importantly, is not covered, especially after years of faithfully paying monthly premiums to the insurance company.

As the plaintiff in a recent insurance dispute lawsuit found out, just a few words in an insurance policy can make a tremendous difference in the insurance company’s responsibility to pay out certain benefits in the event of an accident.

Facts of the Case

In the recent (not-to-be-published) appellate court decision of Gower v. Alfa Vision Insurance Company, the plaintiff was a woman who was injured in a motor vehicle accident. The accident happened while the woman’s boyfriend was driving her car. According to the woman’s complaint, the boyfriend lost control of the car and struck a tree. The woman’s knee was seriously injured in the crash, requiring two surgeries. At the time of the accident, the woman’s boyfriend did not have a driver’s license or, apparently, any liability insurance.

The woman did, however, have insurance and sought compensation for her injuries through her basic reparations benefits, personal injury protection, no-fault, liability, and collision coverage. The defendant insurance company paid out $25,000 on the woman’s personal injury claim, but it denied her collision claim based on a policy exclusion denying collision coverage for an accident caused by an uninsured driver.

The woman sued the insurance company, alleging breach of contract and unfair claims settlement practices. The McCracken Circuit Court dismissed the woman’s claim on summary judgment, and she appealed.

Decision of the Kentucky Court of Appeals

On appeal, the woman argued that she was entitled to coverage for the value of her car (which was totaled) because, although the policy language cited by the insurance company was admittedly unambiguous, she had a reasonable expectation of coverage. She also argued that the exclusion was against public policy.

The appellate court rejected both of the woman’s arguments, holding that the insurance company had a right to reduce its exposure to risks that it was not paid to underwrite and that the provision in question did not violate public policy. Thus, the court agreed with the trial court that the woman did not have a reasonable expectation of coverage under the circumstances presented.

Get Dependable Legal Advice About a Kentucky Auto Accident Case

Car wreck cases can be tricky, especially when an insured person must litigate against his or her own insurance company. The knowledgeable Tennessee and Kentucky car accident attorneys at English, Lucas, Priest & Owsley can help you navigate even a complex and contentious claim. Call us at (270) 781-6500 to schedule a free, confidential case consultation. Claims not asserted within the statute of limitations are usually dismissed, so don’t delay in seeking help.

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