Articles Posted in Insurance Disputes

Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a Georgia car accident case after the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of a car insurance company in a contract dispute. On appeal, the court was tasked with addressing whether a date on an insurance policy was a scrivener’s error. The evidence shows that a man applied for a car insurance policy on February 23, 2017. On his application, he indicated that he requested bodily injury and property damage coverage, but he rejected uninsured motorist coverage, and excluded his wife as a covered party. There were various dates and times noted on the application; however, the most pertinent date was next to his applicant’s statement that was dated May, 23, 2017.

According to the court’s opinion, the policyholder’s wife suffered injuries in a car accident on March 31, 2017, and thereafter requested coverage. The claimant filed a lawsuit after the company denied coverage. The insurance company filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the policyholder specifically excluded his wife from coverage. The claimant argued that the discrepancy of the dates in the insurance application creates an ambiguity regarding the effective date of coverage, and should preclude summary judgment.

Under Georgia law, courts should construe ambiguous insurance contracts in favor of the insured and against the insurer. This generally means that when a contract provision can be interpreted in two different ways, it should be construed in favor of the insured. However, this principle is limited to reasonable interpretations.

In Georgia, accident victims often face challenges when trying to recover for their injuries and losses. The majority of these issues arise from inadequate insurance coverage. Although the law requires Georgia insurance companies to provide under or uninsured motorist (UIM) coverage, many claimants face difficulties evoking the coverage. The three main issues that arise in these situations concern the stacking of commercial and personal insurance policies, recovering against an uninsured motorist, and uninsured motorist offsets.

Stacking occurs when insurance companies provide coverage to a driver under more than one policy. This is usually applicable when a driver suffers injuries when operating a non-owned vehicle with permission from the vehicle’s owner. In these situations, most policies consider the non-owner driver an additional insured under the policy. Issues typically arise when there is proration among more than one insurance company or policy. However, it is essential to note that there are exceptions to the general rule that “insurance follows the car.”

Exceptions and exclusions to UIM coverage may apply in situations where the car owner is a dealership, or the policy provides for specific exclusions. The law provides that Georgia statute OCGA § 33-7-11 covers UIM litigation, and resolution of coverage disputes must comport with the policy’s terms. A recent state court opinion stemming from a coverage dispute illustrates the common challenges that claimants face when evoking coverage.

As if dealing with a Georgia car accident isn’t stressful enough, managing the hurdles that come with being hit by an uninsured driver can bring on a massive headache of its own accord. Compensation may be available for your injuries, assuming you have uninsured motorist coverage on your car insurance policy. However, every insurance provider has specific rules governing what information you must provide and when it must be provided. When you are unfamiliar with your policy’s requirements and terms, the chances of noncompliance increase, potentially jeopardizing your claim.

In a recent Court of Appeals of Georgia decision, the court considered whether the plaintiff gave sufficient notice of an uninsured motorist claim to her insurance company. Evidently, the plaintiff was driving her employer’s car and was injured after being rear-ended by another vehicle while stopped at an intersection. Following the accident, the plaintiff returned to her workplace, picked up her own car, and went straight to the doctor’s office. Following an examination and x-ray from her doctor, she was told that she had whiplash. She had surgery on her neck two years after the accident.

At the time of the accident, the plaintiff was insured under an insurance policy written by the defendant that included uninsured motorist coverage. In the event of a claim under the uninsured motor vehicle coverage, the policyholder was required to notify the provider with all details as reasonably soon as possible after being examined and treated for an injury. In a letter to the insurance company, the plaintiff’s lawyer did not include any details of the plaintiff’s injuries, treatment, or medical expenses. Although this letter was sent to the insurance company shortly after the accident, the plaintiff did not file a suit for damages from the collision until two years later. The trial court determined that the plaintiff did not give notice to the defendant of her claim because it lacked details about the injury, treatment, and other required information. The plaintiff appealed.

When you buy a home, one of the most important things to do is to also buy ample insurance for your residence. This way, in the event of fires, floods, or other disasters, you are able to recover from the damage incurred. Choosing an insurance company or plan, however, can often be tricky. Depending on the policy, there may be different methods to pay your premiums and maintain your status as a policyholder. This is why potential home insurance buyers are advised to read all of the fine print on their policies and subsequent notices carefully, to avoid issues with their coverage in the future. The same goes for any type of insurance policy, including Georgia car insurance policies.

In a recent Court of Appeals of Georgia decision, the court considered a case involving the proper payment of insurance premiums. The plaintiffs initially set up an insurance policy for their residence with an agent, and the plaintiffs paid their premiums directly to the agent rather than to the insurance company. To renew their coverage, the insurance company alleged that they sent the plaintiffs a notice that they needed to send their premium to the insurance company directly, which the plaintiffs claimed they never received. The plaintiffs continued paying the agent directly instead. Eventually, the insurance company canceled the policy. Following a fire that caused the plaintiffs to lose their home, the plaintiffs sued the insurance company after it denied their claim.

On appeal, the court had to decide whether the insurance agent that the plaintiffs used was an “agent” of the insurance company. If so, then the defendant could be bound by the agent’s acceptance of the plaintiff’s payment of premiums directly to her. Because the renewal notice and cancellation notice sent from the insurance company to the plaintiffs indicated that premiums were to be paid directly to the insurance company and had no provisions for payment to the agent, the court ruled that the agent was not bound to the insurance company.

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