Is my friend SOL (car insurance related)?

< ahem > You are not a car insurance person. I am not a car insurance person. Frankly, collectively I’m sure we have little more than personal experience with the manner and that’s what I’m looking for. She didn’t ask me to ask for advice, I’m just curious about her situation. So, I’m not giving her legal advice, you’re not giving her legal advice, and- really- either is her actual insurance company hi-yoo!. Anyway, she’s going to be contacting an attorney in a matter of time to find out her rights, I’m just wondering if any of you have been in a similar situation and what you did.

About a month ago, my friend, her mother, her boyfriend, and her year and a half old baby boy came to Las Vegas for a trip while I happened to be here. One afternoon, Grandma offered to take the baby to grab some lunch, so we could go have fun and buy some show tickets. Friend, Friend’s BF, and myself all went in my SUV, while Grandma took friend’s two year old Lexus to find some grub.

Not too long after, we get a call from Grandma, upset but ok (as is the baby), informing us she was in an accident. She was waiting at a light, waiting to make an unprotected left turn. She had pulled a bit into the intersection, but her car was still straight. Coming the opposite direction, a trunk sped around a bend, accelerated towards the light, and went straight through the intersection. Well, they would have gone straight through it hadn’t been for the Lexus in the way. The guy smashed into the driver’s side area around the tire, completely destroying it (the car is completely undriveable). Grandma remembers looking at the car coming towards her and noticing guy in truck was completely turned, looking for something in the backseat of his truck when he smashed into her.

Grandma called the cops, who came out and said it was her fault for not yielding. They even gave her a ticket.

Anywho, Friend calls her insurance company who spends two and a half weeks doing an investigation. They decide the wont cover it because Grandma isn’t on Friend’s policy. Grandma’s insurance wont cover it either, because she wasn’t driving her own car.

The Blue Book on the Lexus is $25k still and the estimates to get it fixed are extremely high.

Is she totally SOL or is there any recourse? Not that it’s an excuse, but she’s very young (21) and when she got her insurance she was under the understanding that it was full coverage. That of course makes no difference now, but I’m just wondering if there’s anything at all she can do, short of buying a new car?
And before anyone makes any snide comments about a 21 year old having such a nice car, this is the girl whose husband was killed in Iraq while she was pregnant. She bought herself that car so she had a good car to take the baby around in, plus I think she got a great deal from the dealership because of her situation.

Piece of advice #1 speak to a lawyer.
Piece of advice #2 Read both policies carefully. Pay particular to the sections entitled named insured, and who is covered.

A family auto policy (most common type) covers anyone that drives your car with your permission. It also covers any car you drive. (Assuming you have the owner’s permission) However there is no guarantee that the two people in question have family auto policies. You have to read the policies. Some companies don’t issue them, but most of the majors do. Mercury insurance does not in my experience issue FAPs (based on what I have seen)

BTW the word family in this case is just a name, you do not have to be married to have a FAP. My single son for example has a family auto policy on his car.

This will be a mess, and I don’t imagine it will be solved easily. Based on advertisements I’ve seen on TV, some insurance policies don’t cover scenarios like this.

Normally, the car owner’s insurance should cover damage that happens when someone else is permitted to drive the car, and the permitted driver’s own coverage would be used for “excess” coverage if the damages exceed what the car owner’s policy covers. But, some super-cheap policies may say “Nope!” Without reading through everyone’s policies, it would be impossible for us to give a very good guess how this will settle out.

Where’s our resident insurance adjuster? Paging** Inigo Montoya**…

I swear to Cecil, you must be some kind of sorcerer. I believe just yesterday she said she has Mercury insurance. (Unless I’m missing something, in which case I’d still like to think of you as a sorcerer, if I may).

As of now, the Lexus is parked in her garage (her dad had to spend a good deal of time trying to maneuver it in there, since the steering is completely non functional and the tire – er, what’s left of it-- is turned totally side ways). For the time being, she’s driving her husband’s old Acura which has only two doors and is a huge hassle with a one and a half year old (plus she lives with her mom, her sister, and the baby, so it’s no fun trying to haul people around in such a small car). She wants to get a new car, but can’t afford three car payments and three insurance payments. She’s totally stuck for now, it seems.

So she tried to turn in front of the truck? And didn’t have enough room/time?

Mercury? I’m so sorry.

I used to have car insurance through them, then wasn’t happy with my experience after I got rear-ended in November of 2001 (though, fortunately for me, they didn’t manage to weasel out of paying for my repairs). Around that time, the then-future Mr. Neville was looking at online opinion sites about car insurance for me. Mercury came out really low. One reviewer compared them to Osama bin Laden- unfavorably. Bear in mind this was two months after 9/11, when some people thought bin Laden might have something to do with the anthrax that was getting mailed around…

That’s just it- she hadn’t even angled her car to turn yet. So think that she was waiting to turn left at an unprotected light. She pulled her car a few feet straight into the intersection, but was still on “her side”. The guy came through the intersection and at best misjudged the angle at which he was coming, at worst was distracted and swirved as he came through. All the glass from her smashed lights were right in the middle of the intersection, not over to the side like she was turning.

I don’t know much about cars or car parts, but he hit that panel that’s above the tire (extends from the bumper on the side to the door panel. That’s a fender, right?). He hit it so hard that the entire tire was turned sideways (like, broken into that position).

Oh, his car was fine because he was driving some big F-250.

Were there any other witnesses that could attest to the fact that she did not turn in front of him? Why did the policeman assign blame to her if he swerved through the intersection? Did she tell the policeman that she saw him turned around in his vehicle, and did he admit to that?

If this truck hit the drivers side of her vehicle while she was waiting to make a left turn it is almost impossible for this to be her fault, get a big mean lawyer who likes to eat insurance companies with a bit of syrup for breakfast.

These type of accidents generally involve the passenger side from people making unprotected lefts into oncoming traffic. If the impact was to the front and just peeled back the drivers side fender that far then shes IMHO pretty much screwed. She may have a case for getting the ticket dismissed/reversed as well.

Full coverage does not mean what people think it does. She probably means that she purchased comprehensive and collision coverage, which is probably the case. But those coverages will only pay as long as the terms of the contract are fulfilled.

If her policy only pays when a named driver on the policy is driving, the her insurance is not obligated to pay. If the drivers insurance is written so it only covers when she’s driving her own car, then they are not obligated to pay either. The only recourse I can see is to try and get the liability placed on the driver of the other vehicle, although from what you’ve said here it doesn’t sound like that is likely. It very much depends on what the policies in question state.

You may think of me however you wish.

When my son got a policy from Mercury they were so anal on the nobody else is covered they made him read a paragraph that said only people named in the policy were covered, and then copy it in his own handwriting and sign it. :smiley:

There is a reason they are so cheap on young drivers. That or they are from the planet Mercury.

Sadly, no. No one that was around stopped after the accident, which is pretty amazing to me considering how badly her car was damaged. Now, the other guy did stop and according to Grandma (who isn’t very old by the way, probably 45 at the most), the guy was a big suave smooth talker with two really attractive blondes in the car that were giggling about the situation.

I don’t want to pull this particular card, but she was over in Henderson by the condo which is in a bit of an exclusive-ish gated area where some celebrities and multimillion dollar houses are. The officer was white, as was the guy in the truck. Mr. Smooth Talker from the truck did just that, calmly and coolly explaining himself, while my friend’s mom was a hysterical Mexican woman going back and forth between English and Spanish (as she tends to do when she’s upset), all while trying to calm the baby who she refers to as “mijo”. From what she said, the cop just kept cutting her off as she was explaining what happened, saying she should have yielded and it was her fault so he was writing her a ticket. Mind you, there were no other witnesses, particularly the cop himself. I know once when I was in an accident I asked if they would be writing the other party a ticket and the officer said they can’t write tickets for things they don’t witness. I assumed that was the policy, but I guess not.

And Rick , her insurance is not cheap. I was actually astonished by how much hers is. I can’t remember how much it is, but it was at least a couple hundred a month. Mine is paid 6 months at a time and I’m on two cars, one of which is a red BMW sports car and the other of which is a brand new SUV and mine isn’t any where near what hers is for her 5 year old Acura and 2 year old Lexus sedan.

I wonder if the state’s Dept of Insurance covers auto insurance. I know that they can scare the bejesus out of medical insurance companies.

She’s from California and the accident happened in NV though, so I wonder if any agency would be interested because of that?

Then again, both she and her agent are in CA.

I doubt it. Why would they care? As long as the insurance companies are following their contracts with their insureds the state has nothing to say in the matter.

PunditLisa it is the same as if someone bought a fire insurance policy for their house (covers fire only) and then their house is destroyed by a flood. There would be no coverage, and the state department of insurance would not have a problem with this.
Until someone reads the two policies in question and verifies what the exact language is, there isn’t much else that can be said that is factual.
Now if upon reading the policies it shows that there should be coverage, then the state insurance dept and a whole shit load of attorneys would be interested.
I suggest this guy

I guess this scenario hammers home the point that you need to make sure your auto insurance follows the driver. I’m insured no matter what vehicle I’m driving, including rentals.

Boy, he should lay off the caffeine.

Okay, I talked to that lawyer friend of mine that I sometimes mention when I post around here, and here’s what they said:

There are two possible places to get coverage here. One is on the Grandmother’s policy for third party liability insurance coverage, and the other is on the Daughter’s policy for collision coverage. I’m not going to talk about where there might be coverage for any claim made by the other driver against Grandma, because there isn’t anything about that in the opening post.

If Grandma is at fault for the accident, the her daughter has a third party claim against her for property damage. That ought to be covered by Grandma’s policy unless there is a specific exclusion – and if there is, the insurance company has to tell you what it is when they deny the claim, and the opening post doesn’t say anything about that. Grandma’s own insurance policy is going to cover her when she drives any vehicle (except one which is “furnished and available for her regular use”) owned by someone else with the permission of the owner. That was what was happening here.

As for the collision coverage under the daughter’s own policy, pull the policy and read what it says in the first part of that section about “what we cover.” Some policies do exclude collision coverage when the car is being driven by anyone other than the Named Insured, and yes the lower-cost mass market companies like Mercury are the ones most likely to have that sort of exclusion.

Take both policies to a lawyer who knows something about California automobile insurance coverage. And the sooner the better.

Oh, and the Department of Insurance is indeed very interested in automobile insurance policies, and even though this accident happened in Nevada the policy was issued in the jurisdiction of the California DOI. When the insurance companies send you a denial – and they must send a written one explaining why they are denying – they have to give you the address and phone number of the local office of the DOI so that you can call to get help if you think the claim has been wrongfully denied.