In the Iowa Supreme Court’s latest ruling about contractual statute of limitations in insurance the Court upheld a long held, but mistaken belief that insurance contracts are by their terms inherently fair; and they are not.
It’s patently unfair to allow one party with such an enormous advantage to dictate such an important part of the contractual agreement.
Insurance policies are contractual instruments designed to confuse and obfuscate how they will later be interpreted. By this I mean if you actually read your insurance contract before buying it you’d have no idea what is or is not covered. The best you could say is, “Huh, say what?” Lawyers, professionals who have earned a doctorate and who are schooled to interpret contracts, can’t even say what is or is not covered in some instances. So to rule that laypeople will know what they are buying is an assumption no one can make. In the case at issue the only saving grace of the decision is there was a lawyer involved pre-two years and he should have filed the suit before the two-year period ran. But that I can’t even agree with.
Liberty Mutual, “Doing the right thing.”
I can’t agree with insurance companies being allowed to write a statute of limitations period into what is generally described as an adhesion contract, meaning the terms are dictated by one side and in this instance an entire industry that is saying take it or leave it, while the State dictates if you want to drive you have to have auto insurance. The insurance industry has an unfair advantage in all aspects of auto insurance and the buyer is without any recourse that is worth discussing. Contractual statute of limitations are supposed to be ten years for written and five years for oral agreements. It’s patently unfair to allow one party with such an enormous advantage to dictate such an important part of the contractual agreement.
“And like a good neighbor State Farm is there.”
So while as a lawyer I understand the holding in Robinson vs Allied Property and Casualty Insurance Company, No.10-1721, June 29, 2012. I do not agree with the policy that allows the insurance industry to add one sided terms such as statute of limitations.
“You’re in good hands with Allstate.”
Some may want to blame the lawyers involved but I can’t. In many cases it is unclear that the damages will exceed the underlying limits of coverage. Trying to predict the amount of damages in a case is sort of like trying to guess how many bumps are on the back of an alligator. How are we supposed to foresee what medical conditions and treatment lie ahead in the next 24 months? We are lawyers not soothsayers.
Nationwide is on your side.
It’s a waste of time and money to involve an insurance company, your own, in litigation when the damages don’t seem to justify an underinsured motorist claim. Why ask your own insurance company to join the litigation just to wait and see? It makes little sense to waste their resources adding parties to a lawsuit when damages aren’t clear they will exceed the underlying limits. Besides it’s just shooting yourself in the foot to invite in another defense firm with unlimited resources whose only goal is to then wreck your case. So now you have two large multinationals with unlimited resources joining forces to beat up on the little guy. How is that a fair fight? It’s not even close.
“Get you back where you belong.”Farmers Insurance Group
So in the end we have the power of the State joining forces with the powerful insurance industry to limit a consumer contract product that a powerless consumer has to buy and who lacks a Congressional lobbying group. Not even close to being a fair negotiation. This is the part the Court is missing.
Car-crash victims seeking compensation via an underinsured motorist insurance policy must file any lawsuits within two years of the accident, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled Friday, regardless of how long it takes for the victims to discover the full nature