On April 16, 2008 the Oregon Court of Appeals handed down the case of Farmers Insurance Company v. David Conner. The case is important as it sets a new precedent allowing consumers to get the full value of their insurance coverage. The facts involve a simple auto accident. Mr. Connor was injured. Another driver caused the accident. Unfortunately, the other driver carried a low liability policy of $25,000. Mr. Connor’s medical bills were over $30,000. Fortunately, Mr. Connor had uninsured motorist coverage on his policy just in case he was hit by a driver without insurance or without enough insurance to cover his claim. He also carried medical coverage. All of his medical bills were paid by Farmers while he was waiting to settle. When the other driver’s insurance company learned how bad he was hurt, they paid up the $25,000 in liability coverage. Mr. Connor then asked Farmers to make up the difference between what his case was worth and how much he received from the negligent driver’s insurance company. The combined amount of the bad driver’s policy and his own medical and uninsured motorist coverage still wasn’t enough to cover what his case was worth. The case went to arbitration and an arbitrator ruled just that. Farmers agreed to pay the value set on the case by the arbitrator, but wanted to subtract from the award the amount of money they paid to cover his medical bills, essentially shorting Mr. Connor on his claim. The Court stopped Farmers from doing so. The ruling held that making sure the injured person is paid out of his policy trumps the insurance company’s right to offset one coverage against another. The result, Mr. Connor actually got to receive the insurance benefits he purchased. Imagine that.
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