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Auto Accidents Newsletters

Auto Insurance Coverage for Underage Drivers

Age and gender are two of the criteria used by insurers in the process of determining risks in the writing of motor vehicle insurance policies. As a result, auto insurance policies sometimes contain provisions that exclude from coverage incidents that occur while a covered vehicle is being operated by a driver under a specified age, or by a male driver under a specified age. Questions of coverage arise when, as is inevitable, such incidents of operation by underage drivers take place and result in injury or property damage.

Insurer’s Duty to Fully Investigate an Insured’s Claim

An insurance company has a duty to fully investigate an insured’s claim for benefits before denying it. A thorough investigation and fair evaluation of an insured’s claim requires an insurance company to examine the insured’s proof of loss statement and supporting documents. Further, the insurance company cannot ignore evidence that is available to it which supports the claim. That is, the insurance company cannot focus only on the facts that would justify its denial of the claim.

Insurers’ Obligation to Indemnify

Under an insurance policy, an insurance company has two principal obligations. One of those obligations is the insurance company’s duty to indemnify the insured in the event of a claim within the policy’s coverage. The insurance company’s duty to indemnify is usually triggered when the insured’s legal obligation to pay damages is established either through a court judgment or a settlement. The duty to indemnify depends on facts and not speculation. This makes the duty to indemnify narrower in scope than an insurance company’s duty to defend an insured.

Named Driver Exclusions in Auto Insurance

Because motor vehicles are often operated by residents of a named insured’s household other than the insured himself or herself, the driving records of such household members may create difficulties for the insured in obtaining auto insurance coverage for a car or truck. Named driver exclusions in motor vehicle insurance policies have been devised as a means of resolving this difficulty.

Tort Liability for Highway Maintenance

The massive collapse of an interstate highway bridge in Minnesota in 2007 has served as a stark reminder of the problems created by the aging infrastructure in the United States. Numerous less dramatic examples of the consequences of failure to properly maintain and repair highways and associated structures such as bridges and tunnels have led to the bringing of legal actions claiming damages for deaths, personal injuries, or property damage caused by such occurrences. Such actions can involve both governmental units and contractors who perform highway repair and maintenance work on behalf of those governmental units.