(Tom M.) wrote in message
Hi, I am in need of serious help in California.My insurance Co. says my payment check (by mail) was delivered to them 12 days late ( based on the postmark) therefore there is a 12 day lapse in the policy with no coverage.
You have to make sure they _receive_ payment before the policy period
ends. It's your responsibility, not theirs, to make sure it is
actually received by them, not just put in the mail. That means, to
be safe, you need to either mail it far enough in advance so you can
get a receipt _back_ from them (they do mail you back a receipt,
right, when you mail in your payment?) _before_ the end of the policy
period, and/or go to the agent's office in person to make your payment
if you haven't gotten a receipt back before the policy expires. Or
check the status of your payment online -- most ins. co.s offer that
A driver hit my car during this so called lapse period.
"So called" because your insurance had in fact lapsed. Unless your
state law has a statute that specifically gives you some "grace
period" before lapse can occur, you are S.O.L. Many states have such
a law about health insurance, but few offer such protection about car
insurance. Car ins. is for a specific period of time, and is not
considered to be something that continues indefinitely until you tell
them to stop. The effective dates are listed right on the front of
your policy. When you "renew" you are in effect buying a new policy
to cover the next chronological period. But only a foolish ins. co.
would willingly sell you ins. to cover a wreck that had already
happened by back-dating the policy to the date you say they should
have received payment, instead of the date they actually received it.
As far as the ins. co. knew, you had either sold your car, gotten too
old to drive, gotten new ins. from a different co., or whatever --
that was your business, not theirs. All they knew, and were entitled
to rely on from the moment your ins. policy expired, is that _they_ no
longer insured your car.
The other driver, even though at fault, sued me for $250,000. My Insurance refused to intervene.
They only have a duty to defend if you own a policy from them that
applied to the date when the wreck occurred. You didn't, so they
denied coverage and rightfully refused to provide a defense.
I had to hire an attorney to defend myself. After 2 years of aggrevation and a cost of approx. $70,000 , the court and the jurors fond us not liable for the accident.
I'm glad you were successful. The "transaction cost" of prosecuting
and defending claims is a major part of the cost of car wrecks, for
both the victims and the ones sued. That's why it's important to have
insurance in effect even if you are a very careful driver and don't
expect to lose a suit -- even the cost of defending a suit can be
Insurance Co. still refuses to talk to us. What is their responsibility?
None, unless an exception applies as stated above. If _you_ were a
shareholder in the ins. co., would you want them throwing the
company's (your) money away on defending someone who didn't even own
an applicable policy? It's not a matter of compassion or courtesy;
they're in the business of spreading risk by collecting relatively
small premiums from each of their insureds based on their calculation
of the percentage probability that something bad might happen to you,
and then paying claims to those who actually do suffer a loss during
the policy period. You're asking them to cover a "risk" that is no
longer a percentage risk, but is mathematically a 100% sure thing
because it already happened. That's like betting on the horse race
after it's run. They won't do that.
USPS says they are not responsible for late delivery ( because they do not even guarantee delivery period), we were not informed by the insurance Co. that they had not received the payment as of the expiration date yet, otherwise we could have delivered a cashier's check to them on the spot.
On what spot? When they told you, _after_ the policy had expired?
You still would have had a lapse period, during which you would not
have been covered. You still could have picked up the phone, or
checked online yourself, on the first day the new policy would have
been in effect, to make sure it actually was (i.e. that they had
received your payment). That was your job, not theirs. They aren't
going to come running after you; people change insurance carriers, or
intentionally drop their coverage by failing to renew, for a variety
of reasons, all the time.
we have 4 cars under this policy and we were all at risk during these 12 days, this is how everybody pays their payments, depending on the distance,
There's also wire or online transfers, Federal Express, Express Mail,
Western Union..... Even if the policy renewal form says to mail it to
a distant state (where the ins. co. probably has a low-paid boilerroom
staff opening and processing their premium payments), didn't you buy
your car ins. from an agent with a local physical location?
F'rinstance, I either mail my payments to my ins. co.'s head office in
Illinois, or hand deliver it to my agent whose office is in the
village shopping center. I usually do the latter; he records it as
"paid" immediately, but then still has to mail it off to Illinois.
Best of both worlds: you get the float, and you get the immediate
the check is mailed with first class mail. We all expect a normal few days to get there. Are people suppose to call the Co. to see if their payment has been received and cashed? on time?
Yes. It's legally your responsibility, if you care, not theirs. Not
that hard to make a phone call to confirm receipt of payment.
do people know this?
I would hope so. I'm honestly sorry you didn't, but that doesn't
change the ins. co.'s lack of fault in this matter.
does this make sense?
Yes, for all the reasons stated above.
how could insurance companies put us at such a high risk without explaining it?
They don't know you're at risk. As far as they know, you either quit
driving, or bought insurance from somebody else. You got what you
paid for from them -- coverage from the first to last day of your
policy -- but you were a non-repeat customer. That's all they know.
do you know how many pieces of mail is lost or delivered late every day? I need help. Thanks.
Hasn't your atty who represented you in defense of the other driver's
claim already given you advice about whether you have any chance at
all of pursuing the ins. co. for payment? What did he say? Sorry,
but you probably won't find any different advice here either, I'm
BTW, didn't it ever occur to you, or your atty, that offering a
dimes-to-dollars settlement to the other driver would have been far
cheaper than battling them tooth and nail all the way to a contested
trial? Didn't the other guy have "uninsured motorist" coverage that
should have paid him for his injury in cases like this? Your story
is a very sad reminder that the law is an imperfect instrument for
solving problems like yours. Sometimes compromise is the only
sensible solution, or you could wind up going broke just to prove a
This posting is for discussion purposes, not professional advice.
Anything you post on this Newsgroup is public information.
I am not your lawyer, and you are not my client in any specific legal
For confidential professional advice, consult your own lawyer in a
LAW OFFICE OF W. MICHAEL JACOBS
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