No one gets into a car expecting to be involved in an accident. However, motor vehicle collisions are a daily occurrence. For example, according to the most recent data from the Kentucky State Police, there are more than 130,000 Kentucky auto vehicle accidents each year. This averages out to more than 360 accidents per day. So, while you may not anticipate getting into an accident, it is best to be prepared. At the Gladstein Law Firm, PLLC, we help accident victims navigate the recovery process. We handle all types of motor vehicle collisions, working with injury victims to ensure that they recover the compensation they need. That way, you can begin moving on with your life after a serious accident.
Insurance Can Be Confusing
Knowing whether you are covered under a family member’s car insurance policy is an important first step in understanding what to expect after an accident. While it may seem as though this is a straightforward question, that isn’t always the case. Insurance policies are a type of contract. The insurance policy language lays out the terms of the contract. However, insurance companies do not have total freedom to dictate the terms of the policy. State law governs many of the terms that the insurer must include. Thus, while every insurance policy is different, there are some general rules that apply to most policies.
Immediate Family Members Are Covered by Default
Most insurance policies cover immediate family members who live with the person named in the insurance policy. For example, if a couple owns three cars and lets their children who live at home drive these cars, the children will be covered in the event of an accident.
However, this is just the default rule. Under Kentucky Revised Statutes section 304.39-045, the insured can omit family members from their policy. For example, if a parent does not want their child to drive their 1967 Shelby GT500, they may exclude the child as a driver under the policy. Doing so makes the annual premiums less expensive (because fewer people are driving the car). However, this also means that if the child took the car for a joy ride and got into an accident, the policy would not likely cover any of the damages.
Complications can arise where a person who lived with the insured at one point later moves out. This commonly comes up in the context of children who move away to go to college and then come back to visit their parents. Thus, even if the child was listed as an insured driver under the policy, the insurance company may deny benefits if the child’s permanent address changes.
Regardless of their relation to you, anyone listed as an excluded driver is not covered under an insurance policy. For example, when an insurance company finds out you have a child in the home of driving age, it will want to know if your child will be driving your car. If so, the company will want you to add them to your policy. If your child is not going to be driving your car, they may require you to list the person as an excluded driver. Insurance companies do this to prevent people from obtaining coverage for drivers without paying an additional premium.
Extended Family Members
When it comes to extended family members, such as grandchildren, cousins, nieces, and nephews, the availability of coverage can get even murkier. If an extended family member who doesn’t live with you borrows your car and doesn’t do so on a regular basis, it is likely the insurance company will consider them a permissive user.
When large insurance companies write policies, they typically include permissive use insurance. However, smaller companies or those who offer non-traditional insurance products may not include permissive use coverage. Regardless, if you let an extended family member use your vehicle, or you use a family member’s vehicle, it is a good idea to contact the insurance company to determine whether coverage exists.
Issues arise, however, when an extended family member either lives with you or uses your car on a frequent basis. In these situations, the insurance company may expect you to add them to your policy. If you don’t, the insurance company may deny coverage.
Which Insurance Policy Applies?
Finding out whether coverage exists is just the first question after someone is involved in a Kentucky auto vehicle accident. Even if coverage applies, that does not necessarily mean that the owner’s insurance company will be on the hook for the damages. For example, assume you borrow your brother’s car while yours is in the shop. You don’t live with your brother and don’t drive the car often, so you would be a permissive user. When it comes time to file a claim, would you file it under your own insurance policy? Or would you file a claim with your brother’s policy?
Under current Kentucky insurance law, your brother’s insurance company is the primary insurer, and your insurance company would be the secondary insurer. This means that your insurance company would only provide benefits if you maxed out those available under your brother’s policy.
Has Someone Injured You in a Kentucky Auto Vehicle Accident?
If you or a loved one suffered injuries in an accident, contact our lawyer Seth Gladstein for immediate assistance. At our Kentucky personal injury law firm, we represent clients injured in all types of collisions. We can help you understand which insurance policies provide coverage, and how to effectively file a claim. We will also ensure that the insurance company will not take advantage of you. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation with Attorney Gladstein, give us a call or connect with us through our online form. Calling is free, and because we accept all cases on a contingency basis, you won’t be responsible for any legal fees unless we can help you obtain financial compensation.