One of my newest clients is having their collision claim denied, as a result of their alleged failure to notify their insurance company that they had a new driver in the household. Their 18-year-old daughter had been driving for a couple years, but they did not inform their agent when she became a new driver. This immediately became an important message to send out. Insurance companies are in the business of collecting premiums; not paying claims. If they can find a reason to deny the claim, they will!

We often hear of residents in the City of Detroit giving their insurance company an address in the suburbs in order to pay a substantially lower premium. Of course, once a claim is made, this “material misrepresentation” is an easy denial for the insurance company.

As is the case with my new client, the auto insurance companies want to know who all the drivers are in your household, so they can charge an appropriate premium for the risk they are insuring. Typically, when you obtain new insurance, you are asked how many people in your household are of a driving age. Unfortunately, many people obtain their auto insurance long before they have children of a driving age. Let’s say you are married and have 2 children, ages 14 and 9 when you obtain new insurance. Are you going to remember a couple years later, when your 14-year-old is now 16 and driving, to inform your insurance company? Probably not! What if your 20-year-old nephew moves in, or your mother-in-law? What if you get re-married and two families merge together in one household? It’s so important to review your policies often with your agent, to make sure you are properly protected.

One tricky move used by the insurance companies when they make a change to your renewal policy is to bury that change in the policy language, where the consumer is unlikely to ever see. This move is not legal, and as my colleague, Rabih Hamawi, discusses in this article, any change must be conspicuous! If you have a property damage claim along with your injury claim, I will put you in touch with Rabih so he may assist you with the property damage claim. If you have a property damage claim without injury, whether by fire, theft or accident, contact Rabih for the proper advice and help!

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