Don’t ever buy insurance with a family exclusion. Here’s how it worked for a recent client of mine:
Mom was driving, didn’t pay attention to the slippery conditions of a Maryland winter, and her car slid into oncoming traffic. Her vehicle was totaled, and more devastatingly, one of her twins the back car-seat was catastrophically injured. She had brain damage, requires a feeding tube, and now needs 24-hour care. Thinking they had done the right thing when they purchased GEICO insurance, their policy provided for $250,000.00 if they injured someone else, or if someone without insurance injured them.
However, there was a caveat that they didn’t pay attention to: if a family member was injured because of the negligence of another family member, the most the insurance would pay out is $30,000.00. That’s $30,000.00 for nursing care, medicine, therapies, wheelchairs, disability vans, and ramps to the front door. From a legal perspective, it was easy—the insurance company offered $30,000.00 without much more evidence than the initial hospital bill. From an emotional and financial perspective, however, it was devastating. The family needed to go on public benefits, which do not provide nearly the level of care that sweet girl deserves.
Afterward, I spoke to some GEICO defense attorneys about this case, and how sad it was. Several of them thanked me for telling them—they were also insured by GEICO, and had the same family exclusion policy. These are seasoned insurance defense lawyers, and they had no idea about this terrible insurance provision. What chance do non-lawyers have? I hope you read this blog, and have a good conversation with your insurance agent.
Talk with your insurance agent now, and make sure that your family is covered. Accidents happen, but being protected is no accident. Don’t leave it up to chance.
If you have questions about the family exclusion, contact John Cord at 410.252.0600, or send us an e-mail at email@example.com.