Auto Accidents Newsletters
A rental car or leasing company may not be required to provide automobile insurance coverage for its renters or lessees during the rental or lease period. Further, an insurer of a renter or lessor can exclude any liability coverage for their customers. The specific provisions of a vehicle rental or lease agreement should be carefully reviewed to decide whether minimum insurance coverage is provided for renters or lessees.
Some motorist insurance policies exclude coverage for injuries and damages if they occur while a vehicle is being used for a business purpose. For example, if a driver is using his or her personal van to make deliveries for the driver’s home-based business and causes a collision with another vehicle, the driver’s insurance company would refuse to pay for the damage caused to the other vehicle and for any injuries to those riding in it. In effect, the exclusion causes a vehicle to drive in and out of insurance coverage depending on its driver’s particular mission.
If an insurance policy covers accidents of travel, it must be shown that a death or disability resulted from such a risk before benefits can be paid. A death caused by the collision of automobiles is clearly within the ordinary interpretation of accidental means. This result is not prevented by any negligence of the insured. Courts feel that clauses of this nature must be given a reasonable construction. If the insurance terms are not expressly limited, some courts will extend coverage to situations where the use of an automobile was not an important factor or where the particular loss was fairly removed from an event that involved the use of an automobile. Other decisions, however, are not as generous. Some courts will not trace back an injury to an automobile or extend benefits to a particular loss or expense.
When an insured files a lawsuit against an insurance company, the insurance company can file a counter claim against the insured to reduce the amount of the insured’s claim by an amount that the insurance company claims that the insured owes to it. The amount owed can be unpaid premiums or funds received by the insured from other sources that would exceed the amount of the insured’s loss. This is called a setoff, an offset provision, or a benefit-set off provision. In the case of no-fault insurance, setoffs exist for a number of benefits that an insured could obtain due to an automobile accident.
Some state statutes allow uninsured motorist insurance companies to setoff amounts that an insured received from workers compensation, Social Security, and settlements with a liability insurance company. Therefore, if an insured were injured in a car accident while driving in the course of his or her employment, the insurance company could offset the uninsured motorist benefits in the full amount of the insured’s workers compensation judgment.