Texas Court of Appeals Sides With Insurance Agency in Dispute Regarding Coverage on New Car

A successful Texas car accident case has many components:  proof of liability of the negligent driver, credible evidence of the plaintiff’s physical injuries and other damages, and enough insurance coverage to fully compensate the plaintiff for his or her losses.

Unfortunately, the “insurance coverage” issue can be problematic. If the defendant does not have insurance, or in a case in which the defendant’s identity is not known (as in the case of a hit-and-run driver), the plaintiff may have to rely upon his or her own uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. Thus, it is important that an insurance policy be purchased at the appropriate time.

As is illustrated in the case below (concerning lack of coverage for a new car that was vandalized during an attempted theft), disputes can arise concerning coverage, and failing to obtain adequate coverage in a timely fashion can be a very costly mistake.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case (Fourteenth Court of Appeals of Texas; No. 14-16-00859-CV), the plaintiff was a woman who contacted the defendant insurance agency to discuss insurance coverage after she purchased a new car in June 2015. About a month later, the plaintiff’s car was damaged during an attempted theft. She had not accepted any of the quotes offered by the defendant at that time.

The plaintiff submitted a claim for some $12,535 in damages to her existing insurer, but that insurer denied the claim on the basis that the plaintiff had not added her new car to her existing policy within the 20 days required under that policy. The plaintiff then filed suit against the defendant, alleging that it did not timely procure coverage for her car, asserting claims under the Texas Insurance and Deceptive Trade Practices Act and accusing the defendant of negligence and breach of contract. The trial court granted summary judgment to the defendant.

Holding of the Court

On appeal, the court affirmed. Although the plaintiff argued that the lower tribunal had erred in granting summary judgment to the defendant (as well as in failing to grant a new trial to the plaintiff or grant her motion for leave to amend her pleadings after it had rendered judgment), the appellate court found no basis for granting the relief requested by the plaintiff.

The court found that the trial court’s judgment disposed of all of the plaintiff’s claims and that, thus, its order granting summary judgment was “final” for the purposes of the appeal. This was so even though one of the entities named as a separate defendant had never been served. According to the appellate court, this entity was not really a “separate” entity from the defendant who was actually served, and the plaintiff never really expected to obtain service of process on that defendant.

As to the merits of the plaintiff’s claims, the court of appeals found that there was no evidence that any breach of contract or other wrongdoing on the defendant’s part caused the injuries alleged by the plaintiff. Instead, the court opined that the plaintiff’s “failure to accept any of the quotes” proffered by the defendant was the ultimate reason for the fact that she had no valid insurance coverage at the time of the loss giving rise to the litigation.

Have Questions About an East Texas Car Accident?

If you have been involved in an accident and need an attorney to represent you as you deal with the responsible party’s insurance company, east Texas auto accident attorney Earl Drott is here to help. We serve all of east Texas, including Tyler, Smith County, and the surrounding area. For a free, confidential case review, call us at 903-531-9300. We do not charge an upfront attorney fee in most automobile accident cases, so there is no reason to put off talking to an experienced legal representative about your case.

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