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Exclusions for Violations of Law in Motorists Insurance

Exclusions for Violations of Law in Motorists Insurance

Exclusions for Violations of Law in Motorists Insurance

Insurance companies do not defend their insureds in criminal proceedings based on automobile collisions. However, nearly all automobile collisions result from infractions of traffic regulations. The fact that an insured was violating a law at the time a covered accident occurred does not relieve an insurance company’s duty to defend that insured in a civil action or its duty to pay for the injuries or damages caused by the insured.

To limit their liability, insurance companies often include a clause in automobile insurance policies that excludes coverage for injuries and damages caused by an insured while violating the law. Generally, the violations of law have to be serious, such as fleeing from a police officer or driving a bank robbery get-away car. An insured’s failure to register an automobile as required by law would not prevent the insured from recovering for losses sustained in the vehicle’s operation under an automobile insurance policy.

If an insurance policy requires that an insured “legally operate an automobile,” it means that the insured must have a legal right to use the vehicle and not that the insured must use the vehicle in accordance with the law. In some states, insurance companies can exclude from automobile insurance coverage insureds that operate vehicles under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs.

An injured party may be able to obtain benefits under his or her insurance policy’s uninsured motorist provision for injuries or damages caused by a person without insurance or whose own insurance denied coverage because he or she was violating the law at the time. For instance, if a vehicle is hit by a rock thrown from an overpass, the vehicle damage and any injuries to its occupants maybe covered by the uninsured motorist provision of the driver’s automobile insurance policy even though the person who threw the rock was not found or was not insured.

Copyright 2012 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.