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 19, 2018

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If your insurance company misrepresents their product, you can sue them. However, if your agent misrepresents the product, can you sue them? Generally, the answer is yes if you relied on information that he or she gave to you that resulted in a lack of coverage or no coverage at all. Unfortunately, proving misrepresentation can become a ‘he said / she said’ exercise in futility. The key is to avoid any type of misrepresentation by doing your homework.

Attorney Charles Surrano, a 30 year insurance practitioner from Arizona and member of the Advocate Law Group network, explains that there are two things insurers can do to protect themselves. “[Number one], make sure you’re dealing with a reputable agent. Number two, during the course of your conversations with the agent, ask questions. Do the thing that most policyholders refuse to do, take some time, review the policy, review the declarations page and ask the agent what the terms mean.

Likewise, if the agent is explaining a promise in the policy of a benefit that’s being provided and that representation is more explicit than what is contained in the policy, see if he will reduce it to writing and tell you what the policy means. At a minimum, make your own memorandum at the time of what the agent told you, so that later on, if you go to present a claim against the insurer, and the insurer says ‘That’s not what that provision provides’, you’ll be able to say, ‘You may be claiming that now, but at the time you sold me the policy, this is how it was represented to me. This is what the agent told me it means.’

Shop around for a reputable agent

Shopping around for a reputable agent will give you greater peace of mind. Surrano explained, “In shopping for insurance, it’s just as important to make sure you go to an agent that has a good reputation. You can ascertain that either from talking with people who have purchased insurance or general discourse in the community about what agents or agencies provide better services than others. In the long-run, the agent is the person who puts a face on the insurance company.

Dealing with an honest agent and one who’s forthcoming and knowledgeable will make you feel more comfortable about the insurance product that you’re purchasing –and you’re going to have fewer problems with the insurance company because of it.”