Lessons about Bad Faith – Top Insurance Lawyer, Frank N. Darras Offers Steps to Protect Yourself When It Comes To Automobile Coverage
In August, Matt Fisher posted a startling story on his blog that raised red flags and brought an onslaught of negative media attention to Progressive Insurance. In the post, Fisher outlines his family’s battle with Progressive to receive proper payment after his sister Katie was killed in a car accident back in 2010 involving an under-insured driver who ran a red light.
Fisher’s blog post can be located here: http://tinyurl.com/9gr7rwv.
According to Katie’s policy with Progressive, which covered uninsured and under-insured drivers, Progressive should have paid the difference between the $25,000 the under-insured driver had and Katie’s policy of 100,000. After the company refused the family’s request for the $75,000 difference, Progressive offered $25,000. Much to their dismay, the family was forced to sue the other driver for negligence and then use the court decision as leverage to receive the full payment from Progressive. Shortly before the trial, Progressive intervened into the wrongful death suit and at trial; Progressive counsel argued their own insured (Katie) was negligent. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Katie’s family and found she was not at fault. The case was filed in Circuit Court for Baltimore City – Civil System, Case Number: 24C11002185.
“Unfortunately, Maryland is a state where if you are just 1% at fault your insurance company can force you to trial against the adverse driver and hire counsel to argue against you.,” says Frank N. Darras, America’s top insurance lawyer.
“We all pay rich premiums for peace of mind and security and the last thing we are buying is for our carrier to hire counsel to argue against us, to find a legal loophole to crawl through,” says Darras.
Here are some simple steps you can take to protect yourself from insurance bad faith:
1. If you live in a state like Maryland where even 1% fault eliminates your right to collect uninsured/under-insured benefits, its time to lobby your legislature for change. Katie’s family was put through the legal wringer and required to relive the tragic death of their daughter, while their own insurance company hired lawyers to prove she was at fault.
2. Katie at least had some uninsured/under-insured motorist coverage but unfortunately it didn’t come close to the value of her life. Think about what it would cost to spend a couple of weeks in an ICU or what your own earnings would be, to your age of retirement. The numbers are staggering and most of us are driving around grossly under-insured. Ask your agent/broker for a quote to raise your deductible to its maximum. The cost is miniscule; any wonder why we don’t see any advertisement touting uninsured/under-insured motorist coverage?
2. Do your research. Learn the company’s track record. Look up information about the insurance company and their policies. Check their history of rate increases, lawsuits, and complaints. You can get access to this information from your state’s department of insurance by going to http://www.naic.org.
3. Get a second, unbiased opinion. Look at online reviews about the company (outside of the ones on their website). Talk to friends and family who currently have insurance policies with the company. The key here is to get the opinion of people who have had to file a claim. This will give you the best idea of how your own claim will be handled.
4. Read the fine print. Make sure to read every last word of your policy before signing. Often, it’s not reading the fine print that causes people to get in sticky situations. If you have questions or don’t understand the wording, ask a top insurance lawyer to read it over first.
“By following these easy steps, you can protect yourself from your insurance company taking advantage of you. Doing your homework can be the difference between a long legal battle and keeping your sanity. Protecting yourself and your family when buying car insurance is worth the extra time,” says Darras.