Insurance company coverage of a wrongful death claim is complicated. If the person’s death occurred because of negligence, insurance companies may pay for the loss the family experienced. One thing to remember is that the payout will depend on the policy amount. For example, if the policy provides $50,000 worth of coverage, the family will not receive more than that from the insurer.
The family still has the option of taking the at-fault party to court if the damages are not fully covered. Insurance companies do not pay for intentional acts such as murder.
If you need immediate assistance evaluating your insurance coverage after a wrongful death lawsuit, call the Los Angeles Wrongful Death Law Firm of David Azizi at (800) 991-5292 for a Free Case Review.
The homeowner’s policy will cover the damages if they are within the framework of the policy. If not, the insurance company will issue a denial based on the terms of the policy. An example of this occurs when death is due to a car accident, which may not qualify under homeowners insurance. Denial is based on a series of exclusions within that specific policy.
Homeowners Policy Covers Wrongful Death in the Home
The California Supreme Court has ruled that a homeowners policy should cover an accidental injury due to negligence. However, not all incidents are covered. Some examples of exclusions are intentional acts, criminal acts, an accident in a motor vehicle and willful acts of the insured.
Car Accidents and Homeowners Coverage
Problems concerning coverage also arise when an automobile is involved. Many policies have a motor vehicle exclusion. For example, in Farmers Insurance Exchange v. Superior Court (2013) 220 Cal.App.4th 1199, a small child was struck in his grandparents’ driveway by his grandfather’s truck. An exclusion existed, which denied coverage if a motor vehicle was involved. The California Supreme Court said that if a motor vehicle was involved, the exclusion stood. The plaintiff had argued that the grandmother neglected her duty to supervise the child and that the policy should cover the accident. The courts denied this request.
Reasons That Insurance Companies Deny Claims
Insurance companies are in business and denying claims helps them make a bigger profit. There are a variety of ways this is accomplished:
- Pushing for a quick resolution: The insurer is well-aware of a family’s financial hardships after a loved one dies. They use this to try and persuade family members to accept their initial offer, sometimes warning them that by prolonging negotiations, they will ultimately hurt themselves. This is not true. The insurer will use a fraction of the evidence surrounding the accident to accept or deny the claim. They know that crucial evidence may be missing. That is why it is important to have an attorney who will help negotiate a fair settlement by your side.
- Insisting on an unfair settlement: The insurance company often uses a reduced settlement. They insist that this is fair compensation for the family. As with the example above, the company relies on the family’s need for financial help to handle end-of-life expenses and the monetary loss the decedent’s death caused.
- Deny a claim: Denial of benefits is another way that insurers use unfair tactics. They realize that the family is grieving and might not be thinking clearly. By taking advantage of the family’s grief, they can save paying out death benefits. Your lawyer will be able to step in and call their bluff.
Auto Insurance Coverage
In most cases, if someone dies in a car accident, the auto insurance policy will cover the damages. The decedent’s family must prove that the accident caused the person’s demise. It is possible to receive death benefits from the at-fault driver’s auto policy.
If the at-fault party did not carry automobile insurance, it may be possible to obtain death coverage from the decedent’s underinsured/uninsured coverage. This is an add-on to the decedent’s general policy. Some drivers do not obtain uninsured/underinsured coverage. If that happens and another member of the driver’s household has this coverage, it can be used to obtain death benefits.
What Is Covered By Death Benefits?
Death benefits cover the following:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Funeral and burial expenses
If a wrongful death lawsuit pays the family for the above items, then the auto insurance company must be reimbursed.
Who Receives Death Benefits?
The policy will state who receives death benefits. This usually includes:
- The spouse if he or she lives in the same household as the deceased when the accident happens
- The deceased’s parents if the decedent is a minor and living with their parents
- The insured person’s estate if the preceding are not viable options
Free Case Review with The Law Offices of David Azizi
Filing a wrongful death lawsuit is difficult for family members as they face the loss of a loved one. That is why David Azizi works hard to lessen the stress they face. He covers every aspect of the lawsuit with the same diligence and legal acumen he displays on all personal injury cases he handles. This dedication is one reason the legal ranking firm Super Lawyers calls him one of the top personal injury lawyers in the city. Call David at (800) 991-5292 to set up a free consultation.