Legal Question in Insurance Law in California

Insured son had accident in our car, it was not insured by us

Our adult son was driving our car and hit a parked vehicle. He has his own insurance and a valid California drivers license. The damage to the other vehicle exceeded the amount that our son’s insurance company would pay. The lawyer for the insurance company for the other vehicle has sent a letter to both us and our son, demanding the full amount for the repair of the other vehicle.

Although our son is indeed responsible for the damage we do not believe that we are also responsible. We believe the lawyer is trying to extract money from us, the owners of the car on the “deep pockets” principle.

What are the laws that we can cite in replying to the lawyer's letter regarding our non-responsibility?

We were going to give him the car but had not transfered ownership yet so the car is still ours.


Asked on 2/27/07, 5:12 pm

4 Answers from Attorneys

Robert F. Cohen Law Office of Robert F. Cohen

Re: Insured son had accident in our car, it was not insured by us

They would first look to his insurance. If it's not enough, then to your insurance, since it's your car. Make sure to immediately notify your own insurance company of the claim, and let them work it out. That way, you don't jeopardize your property and worry. That's why you have insurance.

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Answered on 3/01/07, 11:08 pm
Jonathan Stein Law Offices of Jonathan G. Stein

Re: Insured son had accident in our car, it was not insured by us

Insurance follows the car in California. Thus, your insurance should have paid first and then your son's insurance. You need to report this to your insurance company immediately and let them deal with it.

You can read more about this at my blog, http://www.calpiblog.com where I have discussed this issue before.

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Answered on 3/01/07, 11:53 pm
Steven Murray Steven W. Murray, APC

Re: Insured son had accident in our car, it was not insured by us

As owner of the vehicle, there is a statutory liability under the vehicle code for such property damage. That is why your own insurer should be involved.

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Answered on 3/02/07, 12:31 pm
Phillip Cooke Law offices of Phillip A. cooke

Re: Insured son had accident in our car, it was not insured by us

If you own a car and let your son drive it, it is important to keep it on your insurance. It is also good to have your son have insurance and the easiest way is to have your insurance include him on your policy.

Whenever a claim is made a clause in your policy probably requires that you give notice to your insurance company so that they may investigate the claim, pay just claims, settle disputed claims and protect you from having to pay any claim over the policy limit.

If the only insurance that applies is your son's and it is inadequate, he needs to request that his insurance try to settle within the policy limits. However, until the people making the claim know whether your insurance will cover the loss, it is unlikely they will accept his policy as full payment.

People carry insurance to protect themselves from having to pay losses. It is important to cooperate with your insurance company and to ask for their help in resolving claims.

It is right for insurance companies to pay for damage that was caused by your son.

If you have no insurance coverage for this car, then you need to join in your son's request to have his insurance try to settle this claim within the limits of his coverage. A lawyer can help write the letter to his insurance company for a reasonable fee.

When an insurance company has a conflict of interest, they may be liable for your attorney fees when you need to consult an attorney to protect yourself. Ask your attorney about that if you need to see one if you do not have coverage.

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Answered on 3/02/07, 1:01 pm


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