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Car Insurance

A Blog About Driving and Car Insurance in the USA

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Car Insurance: Technicalities Can Catch You!

If you have a car, you have to have insurance-it's the law. But what you don't know about insurance can hurt you. I'll tell you what happened to me. A little over a year ago, I was driving my husband's car (for only the second or third time, ever), and I was involved in an accident. I was making a left turn in front of oncoming traffic, and a Ford Expedition hit the car on the right side near the front tire. My vehicle was picked up, pushed another fifty feet, and came to rest against a cement telephone pole. I was judged to be at fault, and my husband's insurance company dropped his coverage because I was not registered as a second driver on his policy. It turns out that insurance companies frown on that sort of thing.

After the accident, I got a letter from the DMV requesting proof of insurance coverage in force at the time of the crash. I figured, "Hey, no problem- I can fill this paper out, with his policy number, name, and all the other necessary information, and that will be the end of it!" It was far from over. A week later, I got another letter (not quite so nice this time) stating that my driver's license had been suspended because I'd failed to provide proof of coverage.

I was confused. I thought that I had fulfilled all their requirements. However, the DMV had a different take on the situation. They thought that I was trying to get out of my responsibility for the accident, by supplying the insurance information that was in my husband's name. The insurance company was no help, as technically I shouldn't have been driving the car to begin with.

The car was totaled. The other person's vehicle had over $12,000 in damage, which probably contributed to the insurance company dropping my husband's coverage like a hot potato. Since the insurance company only paid the other driver $10,000, that person sued me for the balance. I'm just now paying that off.

I eventually got the situation straightened out, though. I provided an affidavit to the DMV that I had only been driving the car for an emergency reason (I was on my way to the hospital because my sister was having a baby). They then accepted the proof of insurance that I had supplied to them before, and I was able to get my license back three weeks and $350 later.

That little oversight on my husband's part ended up costing both of us. He didn't feel the need to have me on the policy because I didn't drive the car that often, and he thought it would save money to exclude me from it. Turns out, it would have been cheaper to just add me as a driver.

All's well that ends well, however. I am more careful in the way that I drive now, and I am in the process of restoring my "daily driver" - a 1969 Pontiac LeMans. The insurance (which is higher due to the company considering my vehicle a "muscle car", but that's a story for another post) is in my name, so there's no mistaking who's covered in case of an accident.

To sum it up, what you don't know CAN come back to bite you later. If you are married, make sure that you are on the car insurance policy. If I had known the importance of that issue a year ago, I wouldn't have lost my driver's license, or been sued. It may only be a technicality, but it's an important one.

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