I 'm the listed driver for one car, my wife is the listed driver for another car, and then my two children are listed on the other two. My wife drove my car, and she rear-ended another driver.
Can my insurance company combine the policies and offer 100k since my wife was still carrying insurance on her own car and driving my car?
Personal Injury Lawyer
The liability policy limit would be the same irrespective how many cars you insure under the same policy. If you have an umbrella insurance policy, that could provide additional insurance coverage.
Personal Injury Lawyer
No. If all cars are insured under one policy, the limit of that policy is $50,000.00 per person. If there were separate policies you would have to find out from your insurance carrier whether the second policy would provide excess coverage on top of the policy that is primary (i.e. the one on which the car is listed as an insured vehicle).
Contracts / Agreements Lawyer
Your wife is likely insured under both policies. Car policies will define "insured" broadly. For example, CSAA defines "you" as the policy holder. "Insured" is defined as "you or a relative."
Most policies contain a term entitled, "Other Insurance." This term will tell you in language that could be incomprehensible just how and when the company will pay when other insurance covers the same event. The insurance company likes to shift the burden of paying claims to anyone else, if the opportunity arises. It would be fair to say that insurance companies are in the business of dodging claims, rather than paying them. In the CSAA policy mentioned above, the policy states, "Any insurance afforded under this Part for a vehicle you do not own, however, is excess over any other collectible auto liability insurance." Their bet is that the limits of coverage under the other policy will be sufficient to pay the claim, allowing them to duck out of paying anything.
Your wife should make a claim under both policies and let the insurance companies figure out just how the claim will be paid. She likely will get letters from one or both insurance companies explaining why they will not cover the claim. If the explanation does not satisfy you, you should seek advice from an insurance lawyer.
Liability coverage affords you two benefits: 1) it will pay the claim of an injured party up to the policy limits; 2) it will pay for your defense (hire a lawyer to defend you against the claim of the injured party).
Unless the injured party in your wife's accident suffered severe damages, a good defense attorney should be able to knock down the claim for damages within your policy limits of $50,000.
If not, many plaintiffs are willing to take the policy limits, even though such a settlement would not cover all damages. Plaintiffs, in many cases, will settle to avoid the risks of trial and avoid the problems in collecting a judgment.
Whatever you do, you should make your claims as soon as possible to allow the insurance companies to make their investigations. If you don't, the insurers may claim they were prejudiced by the delay in presenting your claim and try to weasel out of paying.