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Authorized use of a vehicle?
A car I own which was purchased for my daughter’s use, is insured in my name and my daughter’s name, was involved in a head on accident with another vehicle. The vehicle is registered in NY, the accident took place in Florida where my daughter goes to College.
My daughter and her boyfriend were out at a bar and the boyfriend asks for her car keys to get his cigarettes out of the car. She gave him the keys, and he went out. A few minutes later she went out and he was sitting on the passenger side of her vehicle smoking. Sometime later the same thing happened. The boyfriend asked for the keys to have a cigarette and she gave them to him. She again went out a few minutes later and he and the car were gone.
The car was involved in the accident described above. Although we don’t have a Police report yet, news papers and information from the tow operate room indicate that my daughter’s boyfriend went into the lane of the other on-coming vehicle.
The insurance company is pressuring me and my daughter to report the vehicle stolen and is repeatedly asking if she gave him the keys. She is saying that she gave him the keys to get a cigarette, not to drive. She specifically told him not to drive; they had plans to take a ride home from a designated driver. She also is denying that she expressly gave him permission to drive the vehicle.
The boyfriend is in critical condition in the hospital. The driver of the other vehicle went to the hospital w/ minor scrapes and bruises and was released.
I think the insurance company is posturing to deny any coverage. I want to make sure that stand behind me and my insurance coverage. My understanding is that my daughter gave implied consent by handing over the keys to the boyfriend who had been drinking. Can the insurance company deny coverage?
Answer to Authorized use of a vehicle?
Well, you need a local lawyer really quick.
You are correct; there is express and implied permission. If you declare the vehicle stolen, with the statements above, it is very likely that there would not be any coverage at all (non permissive user clause would kick in).
If the vehicle was not stolen, then he had to have some sort of permission, although not clear, and Florida may have a different rule about implied permission, the police report would at least get the insurance company closer to a denial.
The question is this: should the claim be covered, in your opinion? This kid may lose all medical coverage and the person that he hit may have to sue him (you also, as you own the vehicle, your daughter) and try to recover for their damages. Did he really stole the car? Has he driven he vehicle before? He was told not to drive the first time, was he told not drive the second time?
There is a lot here, but I am not sure a denial would be a good thing for you or your daughter. Talk to a lawyer in Florida before you make any decision.
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