Auto Insurance When Family Member Causes Accident

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The Minnesota Court of Appeals decided a case last week where a mother and son were in the family car when the son, who was driving, caused an accident.  Unfortunately the mother was seriously injured.

Because of the mother’s serious injuries from this car accident, they decided to make a claim on their auto insurance policy.  The policy had $500,000 of insurance coverage if any family member caused an accident while driving a car.  What they didn’t know, was that the insurance policy had a “drop down” provision that said if a family member caused an auto accident that injured another family member, the coverage would be $30,000 instead of $500,000. Since that is what happened in this case, the insurance company said they would only pay $30,000 even though the mother was seriously injured.

The family sued the insurance company and said they were tricked because they didn’t know about this “drop down” provision for a family member’s injury and would never have agreed to it if they had known about it.  However, the court of appeals dismissed their case and said it was written in the policy and they should have read the policy.

This case is sad for many reasons, starting with the mother’s serious injury from the crash.  But it is also sad that the insurance company can get away with this “drop down” provision without bringing it to the attention of the customer.  Even if the customer read the insurance policy, the policy language tends to be complex and difficult to understand.  The insurance agent should have warned the family and let them decide if they want other insurance – particularly because it costs very little more to get an auto insurance policy without the drop down coverage for a family member.

The moral of the story is make sure you have a good car insurance agent and read the policy when you get it.  Most people would want to cover their family if they cause an accident while driving the car.

If you are injured in a car accident where a family member was driving, please call us and speak with a lawyer for a free consultation. Our attorneys have more than 25 years’ experience representing people injured in an auto accident, and we have handled many cases where the accident was caused by a family member.