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No joy for parents when kids take joyrides with family car

Thu Nov 15th, 2012 on     Insurance Claims,    

Unfortunately, children sometimes see car keys lying around the house and may take the family car for a joyride. When the joyride turns into an accident, it may become a headache for the parent who becomes responsible for the damages done to property or injuries to a person. Making junior pay for it out of his allowance may seem fine in theory, but hardly practical in many cases unless the parent is prepared to wait until the child turns into an adult.

The outcome is likely to be that car insurance rates go up for the household. In some cases, however, the parent may also find themselves paying the entire cost of the damages following the accident. Many car insurance policies cover only licensed drivers in a household, although some may cover all members of the household, even those lacking driver’s licenses. It may be helpful to inquire about the provisions of the policy.

Failing to truthfully tell an auto insurance policy about the presence of teen licensed drivers, or in some cases, the names and ages of all household members if requested, may be viewed as a misrepresentation potentially voiding the policy or resulting in non-renewal or cancellation.

Most policies will not cover joyrides, which are viewed as unauthorized use of the vehicle, since it is without the owner’s approval. In instances where coverage is given, the insurer may then insist on the addition of the child, at extra cost, to the policy. Homeowners’ insurance policies also will not ordinarily cover such joyrides and any damages caused by them.

There are, in some jurisdictions, statutory limit on the amount a parent must pay for a civil judgment based on damages a child causes, which may especially come into play if what they did was relatively unforeseeable. In Florida, the limit is the actual cost of the damages and court fees.

Source: NASDAQ, “When your kid takes a joyride,” Aaron Crowe, Nov. 6, 2012

Our firm helps auto insurance policyholders like the parents referred to in this post when their insurer delays or refuses to pay a claim. If you would like to learn more about our practice, please visit our Miami, Florida, auto insurance claim page.

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