How To (Not) Void Your Auto Insurance & Claims
Your auto insurance is meant to be there for you when you need it, until it's not. Insurance policies are contracts, and like any other contract, both parties need to agree to certain terms in order for the contract to remain valid. If you don't keep up your end of the deal, your insurance provider may not pay out. Here are some situations where your insurance company may refuse to pay for losses or damages in the event of a claim.
Non-Disclosure or Misrepresentation
If you are not truthful when applying for auto insurance and your insurer finds out, then you could see increases to your auto insurance premiums or it could void your policy entirely, meaning you would not have protection in the event of a claim. What would be considered non-disclosure or misrepresentation? Well, not telling your insurer that you use your car to deliver pizzas would count, as would not listing drivers who regularly use your car.
You can commit insurance fraud by lying about the way a loss occurred, filing fraudulent claims, receiving payments for treatments that were not actually received, or including previous damages in an insurance claim. Your claim will always be denied, and your policy could be cancelled. If this is on your record it may be difficult to secure auto insurance from another provider.
Failing to report car modifications
Modifying a vehicle potentially increases risk from an insurance company’s perspective. Some modifications may make a vehicle more susceptible to theft, while others improve a vehicle’s performance typically to make a car go above and beyond what it was designed to do. An insurer can refuse to pay a claim if you have not disclosed vehicle modifications leaving you out of pocket and potentially without coverage.
Driving under the influence
If alcohol or any substance use is found to have played a role in a collision, whether you were driving or someone else was driving your vehicle with your permission, your insurer may deny payment for loss or damages caused to your vehicle.
Illegal activities and convictions
Additionally, if, as a result of a collision, you are convicted under the Criminal Code for any of the below offences or any similar law in Canada or the United States it is unlikely your insurer will pay out:
- Causing bodily harm by criminal negligence dangerous operation of motor vehicles
- Failure to stop at the scene of an accident
- Refusal to comply with demand for breath sample
- Causing bodily harm during operation of vehicle while impaired or over 80 mg of alcohol in the blood, or
- Operating a motor vehicle while disqualified from doing so
Basically, if you are using your vehicle in any fashion or for any purpose that is against the law, your insurance provider may not cover your damages if you were to get into a collision. This includes permitting your vehicle be used in a race, speed test or other illegal activity, driving the automobile while not authorized by law, or allowing someone else to operate your vehicle under any of these conditions. All of these exclusions are outlined in the automobile policy you received when you purchased your policy.
Failing to pay your premiums
Missing payments can default your insurance. If you are going to miss or be late on a payment, be sure to talk to your insurance provider first to prevent a non-payment cancellation. It’s just another example of how being honest with your auto insurance provider can help ensure your coverage is still there when you need it most.
Using your personal vehicle as a taxi
With services like UberX now available in parts of Canada, some drivers are using their personal vehicle as a taxi without having commercial auto insurance. With commercial auto insurance, drivers and their occupants would be covered, however, it’s currently possible—with just your personal insurance—you may not be properly insured. If you’re entertaining the idea of joining a ride-sharing program to make some money on the side, make sure you talk to your insurance provider otherwise you may find you don’t have the coverage you thought you did.
What if you feel you're being wrongly denied your insurance claim?
First, gather all your records and anything that may dispute the insurance company's decision. Second, call a lawyer. (like MacGillivray Law!) It's important to find out what your options are, and if you feel like you've been wrongly denied your claims, legal advice can always sure up your questions and concerns.