Can my car insurer deny my claim?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can my car insurer deny my claim?

When I signed up with my original insurance company my broker had me sign a broker’s agreement but not a car insurance policy. Over time the company was bought out and the policy was revised. I did not know the company was bought out because they were still using the original companies letterhead. I got in a car accident which is resulting in a DUI so the company put a stop payment on the loan payoff because getting a DUI is against their new policy. I still don’t have a signed policy with this company. Is there any way to fight this?

Asked on September 11, 2018 under Accident Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

A reasonable claim could be made that even though you did not originally sign a policy, that since you were purchasing insurance from company X, that you should be held to the terms of the car insurance policies it was issuing then, and so should they (and their successors; i.e. anyone who bought them out), because the clear intention was to purchase (and therefore be bound under) their standard car insurance policy. IF the then-current (at the time you were buying insurance) policy did not have an exclusion for DUI, you can make a strong argument in court, where you to sue them, that they have to pay, since the policy you *would* have had, had one been signed, would have paid you out. While we will not say that you would win in this scenario, it is at least a strong enough argument to make it worthwhile to pursue.
But if the policy you would have signed then, had you signed one, would have had a DUI exclusion, then you would not be paid, since the law would presume that any contract/policy you would have entered into would have had that same exclusion that is causing you trouble now.
While we do not know what the policy available to you at the time would have said, it is likely, unfortunately, that it would have had a DUI exclusion: every car insurance policy I have seen for years includes one.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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