Ballin Law



Our client, a police officer, was injured in a fairly routine car accident in his cruiser while on duty. The defendant’s insurance company agreed that its customer was at fault, and offered up the full amount of its policy, which was the minimum $20,000 in coverage required by Massachusetts law. This was not enough to compensate for our client’s losses.  Fortunately, our client’s personal auto policy included optional Underinsured motorist coverage benefits, which is critical in situations like this where the defendant does not have enough coverage to pay for all the damages caused – i.e. the defendant is “Underinsured”.

The problem was that our client had bought his personal auto insurance policy from GEICO. Unknown to our client, GEICO had modified the standard Massachusetts auto insurance policy by adding a “business use” exclusion to coverage for anyone who was driving for work. Since our client was on duty as a police officer and was driving a police cruiser at the time of the crash, GEICO took the position that it had no obligation to pay the Underinsured motorist benefits that our client had purchased. After all, GEICO’s policy excludes insurance coverage for any car accidents that occur “while anyone is using a vehicle in the course of any business”.

We were surprised GEICO was taking this position. If this business use exclusion was allowed to stand, that would mean that anyone insured with GEICO would have basically no car insurance any time they were driving for work, beyond the minimum mandatory coverages. The exclusion would even preclude coverage for vehicle damage resulting from a crash while driving for work.

BUYER BEWARE – Not all insurance policies are equal

We determined that GEICO’s business use exclusion was a violation of state law regulating the terms of auto insurance policies, so we filed suit against GEICO asking the judge to declare that its business use exclusion was illegal and invalid and issue an order requiring GEICO to honor our client’s claim for Underinsured motorist benefits.

For the first few months, GEICO defended its position. However, once we filed a motion for summary judgment (which basically means we alleged that GEICO should lose this case even if everything they say is true), GEICO caved in.  GEICO finally offered to settle with our client. We were then able to negotiate a fair settlement of $65,000 for our client’s case, which GEICO has now paid.  This was in addition to the $20,000.00 we already collected for our client from the defendant’s insurance policy. 

There are a couple of key take-aways from this story. First, not all insurance policies are the same, and not all insurance companies are the same. We are aware of no other insurance company that does business in Massachusetts that is trying to eliminate insurance coverage for drivers who have to drive for work. If you are insured with GEICO and have to drive for work at all, even the occasional run to Staples for office supplies, you should seriously consider switching to a different company. 

Second, sometimes you need to fight back against unfair insurance companies. If we had not been willing and able to fight back against GEICO on behalf of our client, our client would not have been fully compensated for his losses and would have missed out on tens of thousands of dollars of insurance benefits that he paid GEICO to provide. Contact our experienced personal injury lawyers if you have been injured in a motor vehicle crash. We handle cases on a contingent fee basis, which means no money is owed unless we are successful in collecting money compensation on the case. Contact us now for a free and confidential consultation.

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