In the Saturday, February 2nd, 2013 issue of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, author Bruce Vielmetti writes about the family of a woman with $500,000 in insurance coverage who received only $50,000 after a tragic rental car crash death.
Kathryn Bethke and her son, Andrew, were driving in Sheboygan Falls when a British man driving an Avis rental car crossed the center line and struck them resulting in a head on collision. Both drivers died due to the impact of the crash. The driver’s son, Andrew was injured but suffered no life threatening injuries. The British driver had no insurance.
Bethke had purchased over $500,000 of uninsured motorist coverage in case something like this were to happen. Bethke’s family was awarded the maximum dollar amount allowed by law from the rental company for the accident, $50,000. Bethke’s family asked for the difference from her insurance company, Owner’s Insurance, of $450,000 to help reach the limit of the coverage.
Owner’s Insurance declined to pay stating that the Avis Rental car was not an “under-insured automobile” since it was issued a certificate of self-insurance in Wisconsin. After suing the insurance company, the courts ruled against Bethke’s family stating that, “the definition of self-insurer was ambiguous because it was unclear whether a reasonable motorist would understand that a rental company, required to pay at least $50,000 by one statue, is the same kind of self-insurer excluded under Bethke’s underinsured motorist policy.”
In this circumstance, the driver’s policy clearly excluded coverage. It is important to be properly educated about auto insurance and to not rely on information provided by an insurance company. Don’t make the same tragic mistake for your family. Instead, make sure that you have the coverage that you need to protect your family.
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*The individuals in this case were not clients of nor represented by Hupy and Abraham