State Governments Step in to Force Insurance Companies to Honor Obligations to their Own Customers in Personal Injury Claims

Share Article

Total Injury has long warned personal injury victims that the insurance company for the party who caused their injuries might not have the victim’s best interests at heart. In two recent cases, insurance company treatment of their own customers—the very people who had been paying them premiums for years—was so egregious that the governments of two states stepped in to make revisions to force ethical treatment of the insureds. These cases illustrate the importance of personal injury victims having complete, accurate information about their rights and their claims. That’s why Total Injury makes extensive personal injury resources available on its website at and helps personal injury victims arrange free consultations with local personal injury attorneys.

Most consumers who purchase insurance policies and keep their premiums up to date expect that in the unlikely event that they’re injured, the insurance company will make good on its promise and cover medical bills and other losses associated with the accident. That seems reasonable enough, but two recent personal injury cases highlight the unfortunate reality: many insurance companies will use any method available to deny legitimate injury victims their recovery.

In the first case, 60-year-old Ethel Adams was injured when a truck crossed the center line and struck her vehicle. The driver of the truck wasn’t responsible, though. Her vehicle had been pushed across the center line when her truck was rammed intentionally by another driver. The responsible driver didn’t have insurance, but that shouldn’t have been a problem—Adams herself carried two million dollars in uninsured motorist coverage. However, when she submitted a claim to her insurance company, it was denied. The reason: her underinsured motorist policy only covered “accidents,” and this incident had been intentional.

The Washington State Insurance Commissioner ultimately met with Farmer’s Insurance and threatened legal action by the state if the insurance company didn’t pay up. Ultimately, it did, but state legislators wanted to make sure the situation never arose again, and so were forced to write legislation defining the term “accident” as an event unintended and unexpected from the standpoint of the victim.

Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, another automobile accident victim was fighting for compensation from her own underinsured motorist coverage. The driver who injured Alison Welin did have insurance, and the total value of his insurance coverage was equal to Welin’s underinsured motorist coverage. However, more than one person was injured in the accident, and Welin received only a portion of the value of the policy. Still, American Family told Welin she didn’t qualify for underinsured motorist coverage, since based on his full policy limits, the responsible driver hadn’t been “underinsured.”

Just as the Washington legislature had been obliged to define “accident” in order to protect consumers from their own insurance companies, the Wisconsin Supreme Court saw the need to define “underinsured” in terms of the benefits actually available to compensate the victim.

Consumers might feel that when dealing with their own insurance companies, companies to whom they have paid premiums for years, they can expect fair treatment. However, the reality—as illustrated by these two recent cases—clearly demonstrates the opposite. Every personal injury victim should be certain that he has complete and accurate information before talking with an insurance company. That's why Total Injury provides extensive personal injury resources on its website and makes it easy to arrange a free consultation with a personal injury attorney.


Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Tiffany Sanders
Visit website