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I got a DUI some time ago--a glass of wine after dinner! My…

I got a DUI...

I got a DUI some time ago--a glass of wine after dinner! My insurance company did not post an SR22 to my file that they had sent me. Because my file was not complete, they sent my wife an exclusion form. She didn't know any better and signed it without talking to me. (She writes checks for bills that I have on auto pay, too!) A few months later I was hit by a stop sign runner, and only then was I told that I had no insurance.

Lawyer's Assistant: What state are you in? It matters because laws vary by location.

California. Allstate Ins.

Lawyer's Assistant: What steps have you taken so far?

I switched to a different agent and have documents that establish that I should have never been excluded.

Lawyer's Assistant: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?

I want to sue my then Allstate agent for not keeping my file current. When I switched to another agent, she had my file transferred to her office. The suspended license forms were still not in my file.

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Customer reply replied 2 months ago
I am unable to download your app until I get home later this afternoon; I have no wifi here.
Customer reply replied 2 months ago
I have to leave here in a few minutes and will check back at ~5p.m. BTW, the damage to my car was extensive. Repairs cost me over a $1000. I would like to seek reimbursement from Allstate, or at least the agent who screwed up my file.
Answered in 2 hours by:
6/1/2018
James Daloisio
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 859
Experience: 30 years experience in criminal law, continuing education.
Verified

Hi, my name is***** to Just Answer.

While your disappointment with your agent's performance is understandable, it isn't going to be easy to get you into civil court.

1. It's your responsibility to file the SR-22. The procedure in California works like this: You contact your insurance agent and request an SR-22 filing. The agent writes the policy and submits the SR-22 to DMV. In about 30 days you will receive a copy of the filed SR-22 and a letter from DMV that acknowledges receipt of the SR-22 and informs you of the 36 month requirement for maintaining the SR-22. Rather than send an SR-22 your agent sent you an exclusion letter which your wife signed and returned. She is held to everything stated in that letter. The point is that the insurance company did something. If they did nothing, it might put a different light on things; but they sent an exclusion letter that should have triggered an inquiry. They probably decided that they did not want to accept the risk of writing SR-22 coverage with the DUI, but they should have given you an alternative.

2. You mentioned a DUI. Were there any consequences in terms of a license suspension or restriction that you were given notice of in court? The insurer will have this information available in their defense because your lack of knowledge will be an issue.

3. Your agent's responsibilities to you are contractual. There is an agreement that the agent will perform certain services in a competent manner in return for your payment of a premium. Any legal action you take against the agency will be based on breach of contract. Inherent in a contract claim is the well known "bad faith" allegation, i.e., that the insurance company did not engage in "good faith and fair dealing" in handling a claim. One of the ways that bad faith is often established is by illustrating the harm suffered by an insured because of the carrier's failure to provide or communicate important information. They are in the business of providing coverage, and are supposed to be "looking out" for you. (Aren't these the "Good Hands" people?) You should have been informed that you had no insurance coverage and that as a result your driving privilege would remain suspended. Instead, they excluded you.

I'd probably invest in a consultation with an attorney who specializes in coverage issues. While an aggressive lawyer might be able to fashion a lawsuit out of these facts, the chances of success are probably about 20% at best.

I hope this has helped you to understand the situation a little better. Please don't forget to rate this answer. You may always return here with follow up questions on this topic at no additional charge; and thank you for using Just Answer

James Daloisio
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 859
Experience: 30 years experience in criminal law, continuing education.
Verified
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Customer reply replied 2 months ago
I finally had a chance to better review your initial response. I hope there is still time for a second [response].Paragraph 1: “Rather than send an SR-22 your agent sent you an exclusion letter…” No, the office manager/acting agent DID send me the SR-22 and then DID NOT put it in my file. When she realized it was not in there is when she sent my wife the exclusion form. As said before, my wife la-tee-da just signed it and sent it back without telling me. I had asked and asked the acting agent the procedures of obtaining an SR-22. It turned into an argument when she repeatedly said she did not know…and then would not let me speak to my actual agent. Ultimately I obtained a 2nd SR-22 through another insurance company.Paragraph 2: “Were there any consequences in terms of a license suspension or restriction that you were given notice of in court?” …a suspension.Paragraph 3: “…agent will perform certain services in a competent manner in return for your payment of a premium. Any legal action you take against the agency will be based on breach of contract.” I was told that likely I would be suing her, the acting agent, not the company. Please clarify. If I can’t find a reasonable attorney for said, I was thinking of filing it myself in small claims court. Opinion please. “One of the ways that bad faith is often established is by illustrating the harm suffered by an insured because of the carrier's failure to provide or communicate important information. They are in the business of providing coverage, and are supposed to be "looking out" for you. (Aren't these the "Good Hands" people?) You should have been informed that you had no insurance coverage and that as a result your driving privilege would remain suspended. Instead, they excluded you.” Exactly!“I'd probably invest in a consultation with an attorney who specializes in coverage issues. While an aggressive lawyer might be able to fashion a lawsuit out of these facts, the chances of success are probably about 20% at best.” At every search for an attorney the only results I get are for PI attorneys. How can I better focus my search?Coupled with what I sent on Tuesday, that’s all I have. I will rate your answer once received.Thank you,Gary

Hi again,

You're looking for an attorney who will handle a claim for professional negligence against your agent or broker.

An agent is pretty much acting on behalf of the carrier and her actions are imputed to the carrier. A broker will represent several different carriers independently and is supposed to be working for you. It sounds like you'll be dealing with an agent rather than a broker as the defendant. This means that the carrier will also be a defendant.

Given the amount of money involved, a small claims action would probably be appropriate. But before you do that, you should at least consult with an insurance attorney. You may have damages based on other than just the cost of fixing your car.

Here's a link to begin sifting through insurance specialists.

https://lawyers.findlaw.com/lawyer/practice/insurance-law

Bear in mind that your case is not going to look like a big money maker to most of the firms involved in this type of litigation, because it's expensive to sue an insurance company. Plaintiff lawyers want to see a payday that gives them a profit. So prepare your sales pitch. Make sure that your potential attorney understands the damages caused by your agent's negligence. Not just the money; the trauma of learning you're unlicensed and uninsured, the damage to your credit profile, stress on your marriage, etc.

You already rated my answer :) I'll leave the thread open. Feel free to ask more questions here.

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Customer reply replied 2 months ago
Thanks. I'll use your link to see who I can find and maybe get back to you in a few. Your "sales pitch" sentences make a lot of sense...I've been affected in every category you mentioned.
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