Lesson 29: Are You in Bad Hands?

From the Land Mines in Accident Cases section of How You Can Avoid Legal Land Mines by Joseph S. Lyles (2003).

An insurance policy is a legal contract, and on your side of the contract you agree to pay the charge or premium. In return, the insurance company’s side promises to reimburse you in money for certain loses you may suffer. Generally, the losses covered are property damage or personal injuries. However, almost anything of value can be the subject of an insurance contract.

Insurance policies are composed and prepared by insurance companies. They are usually long and difficult to understand. Also, these policies are worded with the object of carefully limiting what occurrences are covered by the terms of the insurance policy. The state law often dictates what types and amounts of coverage at a minimum are offered in the insurance contract. Some aspects of insurance law tend to protect the consumer’s interest and others tend to protect the company’s interest.

In general, insurance is a regulated area of business. The state governments have specific state agencies that deal with insurance companies and enforce the applicable regulations. However, those agencies (often called commissions) rarely get involved with individual claims. If you need help getting your insurance claim resolved you will normally need to retain an attorney.

The Lesson: Know exactly what losses your insurance policy promises to protect you or your property from suffering. Make sure to find out when your insurance company will pay benefits to you and when it will not.