Can Your Auto Insurer Alter Your Insurance Policy without Your Permission?

April 23, 2014

As any experienced personal injury attorney will tell you, dealing with insurance companies is no easy task.  Whether it’s another driver’s insurer or your own, insurance companies are always happy to accept premium payments, but are ready with a dozen arguments when it comes time to pay your claim.

One recently-seen argument involved an insurance company that sent a “policy amendment” to their insured in the middle of his policy period – in other worse, an insurance company attempting to alter your insurance policy.  This individual was subsequently injured in a car accident and filed a claim with his insurance company, only to have the insurance adjuster tell him that there was no coverage because of that “policy amendment” letter.  In other words, even though the insured accident victim had never agreed to any change in terms—he merely received a letter in the mail—his insurer refused to provide him with the coverage he had purchased.

While the adjuster’s argument may have fooled or confused an unrepresented victim, this individual sought legal counsel to protect his rights under Ohio law.  That law clearly establishes that, except in very limited circumstances, they cannot alter your insurance policy during the policy period except by agreement of the parties.  Cincinnati Ins. Co. v. Kyung Song, 8th Dist. No. 97379, 2012-Ohio-1062, P25 (discussing R.C. 3937.31).  Amendment letters like the one sent out by the insurer here do not take effect until the expiration of the policy period, unless both of the parties assent and provide contractual consideration for the change in terms.  Storer v. Sharp, 8th Dist. No. 86525, 2006-Ohio-1577, P15.  This means that, generally speaking, car insurance companies cannot unilaterally alter your insurance policy during your policy period without your consent.

This particular adjuster’s argument is just one of many that you may hear if you choose to pursue your auto accident claim without the help of an experienced motor vehicle accident attorney.  Remember, insurance companies—even your own—want to pay you the minimum amount to settle your claim, and they employ adjusters with extensive experience in getting victims to settle low.  If you are injured in a motor vehicle accident, contact an attorney immediately to ensure that your rights to pursue compensation are fully protected.

The Cleveland personal injury lawyers of Lowe Scott Fisher Co., LPA have spent years representing auto accident victims through every stage of litigation.  For a free telephone consultation, call (216) 781-2600.

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