When must I disclose my child’s at fault accident to my insurance company, even though the car and insurance coverage was her dad’s? Mom/dad divorced.

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jun 12, 2010

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Insurance Question from Casa Blanca, CA

Asked on 06/12/2010

When must I disclose my child’s at fault accident to my insurance company, even though the car and insurance coverage was her dad’s? Mom/dad divorced. 17 year old step-daughter living with us (Mom & me=Step-dad). She was driving a car owned and insured by her father. She hit another car, both cars totaled. Fortunately, no injuries. Dad's insurance co has handled & paid everything, we have not had to make any claims, statements, involvement.The Question:When do I have to disclose this accident and ticket to MY insurance company? She is a named insured as an occasional driver on my wife and my 2 cars. Do I have a duty to disclose it now, or at time my policy comes up for renewal? I can't find any info in my policy paperwork.

Answer given on June 14, 2010

Even though your step daughter lives with you, insurance in California follows the car.  Therefore, her father’s insurance was responsible to repair the cars involved in the accident.    Her father’s insurance company will most likely contact him, asking about the daughter and where she is insured.  This is standard procedure when an unlisted driver is involved in an accident.

Your insurance company generally will order driving records on all drivers.  Some companies do this every year, some every two years, and some don’t have a set time of ordering.  You are not responsibile to advise the company of your daughter’s activity, anymore than you have a responsibility to tell them you, your wife or any other resident got a ticket.  It is up to the insurance company to determine this.  Having said that, some companies do send letters to the policyholder asking about any activity in the past year or so.  If they do that, you then ARE responsible to respond honestly.  At that time the insurance company may increase your rates to reflect this accident.

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