Sunday, January 23

Don’t Let Driver Exclusions Leave Your Insured Bare

Words can be a very powerful tool of communication, but it is important that the correct word is chosen to convey the correct information. One word can change the whole context of a sentence or a contract. It can also be the difference between whether your client has insurance coverage in a certain situation or not. When entering into an insurance policy contained in a “driver exclusion”, understanding the difference between the words contained in a “driver exclusion” is vital to ensure you fully understand the policy’s coverage, and can explain it to your prospect.

Since car dealerships can have many drivers, some with undesirable driving records, insurance companies many require that a “driver exclusion” endorsement be added to the policy or a “driver restriction” becomes part of business practice. Basically, a driver exclusion is an endorsement added to an insurance policy which is signed by the policyholder and the individual named on the exclusion acknowledging that the insurance will not apply under certain circumstances described in the endorsement. It is important to note that the absence of coverage does not take away responsibility from the policyholder or the excluded driver if the excluded individual is involved in an accident. These forms can vary greatly among insurance companies. Each can have a different effect on an insurance policy and should be reviewed with by the policyholder with their agent and their attorney. Some states have determined that a driver exclusion endorsement continues to be effective into a renewal policy without executing a new endorsement. It is important to make sure that if an excluded employee’s driving record has improved that this is reviewed with the insurance agent any time during the policy period, and especially at time of policy renewal.

Because driver exclusions are effective in most states in changing insurance coverage, they are added to a policy by special endorsement and become part of the insurance policy. Although the titling of these endorsements is very similar, the wording contained in the endorsement can vary greatly and have a carrying effect on the coverage.

Some endorsements show titles such as “Driver Excluded”, “Driver Exclusion” and “Named Driver Exclusion.” Titles such as these would make you think they all would change your coverage the same exclude coverage for a specific employee. For the endorsement to be effective in its intent, it will also include wording eliminating coverage for the dealership and all named insureds. Let’s take a closer look at some of the endorsement wording to see how they may impact your client’s business. Remember, each claim situation and specific state laws and regulations many change our general explanations. Clackmann Weather

The following are excerpts from one driver exclusion endorsement. “The person indicated below is excluded from coverage.. when driving any motor vehicle… and this exclusion applies to all insureds.” This endorsement appears to remove coverage only when the person named in the endorsement is driving. But it refers to any motor vehicle and does not address ownership of the vehicle. This would lead the impression that the exclusion applies to the dealership’s vehicles, customer vehicles, vehicles owned by the named person and any other vehicle they may be driving and potentially involves the business.

Another driver exclusion contains the following: “The person designated… is excluded from any coverage… when operating any motor vehicle… applicable to all insureds of this policy… whether or not the operation as with expressed or implied permission…” This is similar to the previous example, but not exact. In this endorsement, they use the term “operating” instead of “driving” and add a condition about permissive use. Is “driving” different than “operating?” If one of the mechanics named in a driver exclusion is showing a customer why they are having a certain complaint with their car by starting their car, opening a door, hood or deck lid, will this be considered “operating?” If any of the mechanic’s actions cause damage to the customer and the insurance company considers his actions as “operating,” then will insurance coverage will not be provided for that incident. This endorsement sample has added wording addressing permissive use clarifying that giving an excluded driver permission to use a vehicle, or the excluded driver driving without permission, will not void the endorsemen

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