When you contact an insurance agent, you have the right to expect him or her to be knowledgeable about various insurance companies, products, and coverages. Your insurance agent is, in a sense, your legal representative, representing you in your contract (policy) with your insurance company. An insurance agent must be licensed by the state and has a fiduciary responsibility to advocate in your behalf with your chosen insurance carrier. You should be able to rely on your insurance agent to represent your interests, not the agent’s and not those of the insurance company. This can sometimes place the agent in a precarious position, because the insurance company pays the agent a commission for selling the policy. This means the focus may be on making the sale, rather than providing you with the best coverage to meet your need.
Insurance can be complicated, and it’s the agent’s responsibility to understand the laws of the state and the terms of the policy you’re buying, and to explain them to you honestly and thoroughly. So what happens if your agent makes a mistake? One common example involves uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. In most states, your insurance agent is required to offer you this important coverage, which can protect you if you’re involved in an accident with a driver who is not adequately insured, if at all. If you decline the UIM coverage, you must do so in writing.
Failing to Have You Decline Uninsured Motorist Coverage in Writing
So what happens if the agent neglects to have you sign the required form, and you are injured by an uninsured driver? Your attorney will demand that the agent produce the signed form, and if he or she is not able to, the law presumes that you are covered.
Misrepresentation of Coverage
What if the agent has sold you a policy that is entirely inappropriate for your situation and doesn’t meet your needs? What if your agent misrepresented the insurance product and you are left without coverage that the agent said you were getting? In this case, you may have recourse against the agent, who is required to carry Errors and Omissions insurance, to recover your damages when your agent has not acted in your interests.
Material Misrepresentation by an Agent on Your Application
If the agent provides erroneous information or omits pertinent information when filling out your application for insurance, your insurance company can deny coverage when you file a claim. If this happens because of the agent making an error in filling out the application, it is not fair for you to lose your benefits after paying your premiums regularly. You may be able to sue to recover your damages if you can show that the error was the agent’s and not yours.
Proving Agent Error
Unfortunately, these cases can be extremely difficult to prove, because it may come down to your agent’s word against yours. You can protect yourself when purchasing a policy by reading it carefully and asking pointed questions about anything in the policy you don’t completely understand. Take detailed, dated notes as to what the agent told you. Whenever possible, have the agent sign a written memo of your understandings about the policy as it has been explained to you. And get the best attorney you can find—one who has extensive experience in dealing with insurance matters for consumers who have suffered damages from insurance company or agent wrongdoing.
Phoenix, Arizona, Law Firm for Insurance Agent Errors and Omissions and Insurance Company Bad Faith
When your insurance agent or insurance company has acted wrongly, whether in misrepresenting coverage, failing to offer you coverage when the law requires it, or acting in bad faith to avoid paying your claim, you will find the legal representation you need at Surrano Law Offices in the Phoenix area. Our attorneys focus exclusively on representing policyholders and claimants who have a right to insurance benefits under their own policy or that of the party who caused their damages.
You spend good money faithfully paying your premiums, month after month and year after year. When you incur losses, you have every right to expect a fair, honest, and prompt response from your insurance company – just as you have the right to expect accurate information and expert guidance from your agent. When this is not forthcoming, we will investigate and determine if you have a valid claim to recover your damages. So don’t wait. Call Surrano Law Offices today to learn about your options when your insurance provider has let you down.