According to an online Harris Interactive poll, reported by Insurance Networking News, confusing wording makes auto insurance policies incomprehensible to 36% of American drivers.
The survey revealed that 87% of drivers who currently have auto insurance said they had read at least some of their auto insurance policies, but that 36% of those drivers complained that their auto insurance policies were somewhat or very difficult to understand.
Despite the fact that greater than 30 states have enacted laws intended to simplify policy language, the online quote aggregator says that many consumers are confused by how their policies are written, and struggle to determine what’s covered and what’s not.
The irony with all this is, in California and many states, the law presumes that a consumer has read their insurance policy and understands its terms. I advise all my clients to read their policies as carefully as they can and then ask their broker/agent questions about the parts they don’t understand.
Not that this always helps. I have one case right now where the insured read their policy and thought they understood it, only to find out when their claim for a defense was denied that there was some case law the insurance company thought meant that the policy didn’t cover anything.
The truth is, right now the law favors insurance companies over consumers, so people need to watch their step and be very careful in buying and maintaining insurance.
And, yes, I read my own insurance policies and, no, I don’t understand everything I read, even though I litigate insurance disputes for a living.
What a world.
California led the nation in 2010 dog bite claims, at 369, representing a total payout of $11.3 million, according to a State Farm Insurance Co. report that lists the top ten states for dog bite claims
This works out to an average $30,623.31 paid out per claim, which says something about the problem of dogs not kept under control by their owners.
If you love dogs, which I do (three Labs at home plus cats, etc.) then you know that there are pet owners who refuse to keep their dogs properly fenced on their property, or keep overly aggressive animals (in Los Angeles, pit bulls are a big problem) or just don’t understand that pet ownership is a responsibility as well as a privilege.
And, by the way, in California, there is no “every dog gets one free bite” standard when it comes to injury claims.
The standard jury instruction (CACI 463) says that there is liability when an injured plaintiff proves:
1. That the defendant owned the dog;
2. That the dog bit the plaintiff while he/she was in a public place or lawfully on private property;
3. That the plaintiff was injured;
4. That the defendant’s dog was a substantial factor causing plaintiff’s harm.
Irresponsible owners should be held liable for the injuries their animals cause. Of course, it’s always better to head off the harm in the first place.
Recent fatal accidents involving tour buses spurred a Senate committee to order new safety rules. Secretary LaHood announced new commercial driver’s license standards, federal safety requirements, consumer tools, and stepped up enforcement campaign. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Transportation has put forth several new policy proposals designed to raise the bar for passenger carrier safety.
The best safety regulation is an enforceable requirement that all bus operators maintain sufficient insurance against death and serious injury. The old $1million policy standard is no longer adequate in a modern economy and accident victims should be protected. Plus, insurance companies are a first line of safety defense, since they have an economic incentive to enforce minimum operating standards in order to avoid claims.
If we truly want safer transportation for our seniors and children (the primary users of these buses), then let’s hold operators responsible for the damage they cause. Government can’t do the job and we don’t want to pay for larger bureaucracies anyways. Let the private sector operate in a free market. I’ll trust a for profit insurance carrier to enforce standards over government any day, they don’t want to pay claims after all.
This is bad law. In effect, the US Supreme Court has created a safe harbor for corporate fraud, it’s sort of like licensing a tax on everything we buy. So long as the amounts stolen are too small to justify an individual case, crooked practices will be profitable.
Maybe I’m just getting old(er) and (more) conservative, but in this job market, I don’t think there is much traction in trying to claim an employer is discriminating by not hiring, or even firing, over what they see on a social networking site.
The fact is, jobs are hard to come by and jurors aren’t all that sympathetic to claims that an employer is being unfair by checking out future or present employees on the internet. I think the attitude is, “you’re lucky to have a job if you can get one.”
This, of course, is not the case if there is a bonafide discriminatory act based on a protected classification such as race, gender, national origin or sexual orientation. But people are justifiably skeptical of those claims (me too, I turn down 99% of the potential cases I review), so it better be the real thing with compelling evidence if you are going to head for court. On the other hand, if there is actual discrimination at work, then that is something that needs to be addressed and remedied. This is America, after all. We still get to fight for equal opportunity, though it is often an uphill battle.