Is Car Tipping Covered by Insurance? And 3 Other Strange Auto Insurance Stories

INSURANCE - CAR INSURANCE
Car tipping, unauthorized drivers, and more events not covered by most car insurance companies.
Updated June 6, 2024
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In the ever-unpredictable world of automotive mishaps, recent events in Colorado Springs have brought to light the physical dangers of reckless driving and the financial implications that can follow such incidents. The bizarre car tipping event, where thrill-seekers met a tragic fate doing donuts in their car, prompts a conversation on the financial aftermath and the broader, albeit strange, instances where auto insurance surprisingly will not cover you.

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Car tipping in Colorado: Unraveling the financial fallout

The peculiar incident in Colorado Springs, where a driver's attempt at donuts led to a car rollover, resulting in life-threatening injuries for five passengers, raises a fundamental question: Does car insurance cover car tipping? 

In most cases, insurance policies are designed to provide coverage for accidents resulting from unforeseen circumstances or the negligence of other drivers. However, the intentional act of car tipping during reckless driving may blur the lines of coverage.

The financial implications for the driver, Marisol Wentling, and the injured passengers could be substantial. While the injured individuals may pursue claims against the driver's insurance, the intentional nature of the act might complicate matters. The driver's insurance company also denied coverage based on the reckless driving charge, leaving those affected to navigate a complex legal landscape. In short, if you’re pulling a stunt meant for Vin Diesel, you might end up entirely on the hook if anything goes wrong.

The Ohio Supreme Court's auto insurance puzzle

Shifting gears to Ohio, a recent Supreme Court ruling sheds light on the intricacies of insurance coverage disputes. In a case where a teen driver borrowed a friend's car, collided with a light pole, and injured passengers, the insurers of the car owner and the driver found themselves at odds over who should foot the bill. The Supreme Court's decision to favor the driver's insurance company over the car owner's emphasizes the importance of erring on extreme caution before entrusting others with your vehicle — and being extra careful if someone entrusts you with theirs.

This case underscores the need for individuals to carefully review their insurance policies (not just to find ways to save money) and be aware of potential disputes that may arise between insurers in the event of an accident involving borrowed vehicles. In many cases, most would have assumed the owner’s insurance would have paid up, but the Supreme Court decided otherwise, and the driver was ultimately left responsible.

What should be disclosed?

In San Diego, a family found themselves on the wrong side of insurance problems after not keeping their insurance details up to date. San Diego resident Sergio Preciado got into an accident in July of 2022 as he was exiting the Interstate. He admitted fault, and there were no injuries in the crash with another car. After Preciado exchanged insurance details with the other driver, an adjuster called asking if anybody over 14 lived with him, to which he answered yes, naming his son and daughter. 

Neither of his children was involved in the accident or had driver's licenses. Still, Preciado’s entire auto policy was rescinded for failing to claim his son as an “excluded driver.” As a result, his insurance company also denied the claim, and Preciado was on the hook for $5,000 in damages to the other car involved.

Insurance companies often want to know who has access to a vehicle at any given moment, regardless of whether or not they’re licensed drivers and have official permission to use it.

The California Department of Insurance's investigation, while not finding wrongdoing by the insurance company, serves as a reminder for all policyholders to be aware of the provisions in their policies that may impact coverage. The incident underscores the need for drivers to explore all areas of their policies. All too often, especially with insurance policies that are several pages long, consumers sign the dotted line without much regard. It’s crucial to look over all provisions of any contract you sign and to be aware of any loopholes companies might take advantage of in the future.

Deer collisions: Swerving vs. unavoidable hits

Finally, the interaction with wildlife on the road brings its own insurance considerations. Contrary to instinct, insurance advice suggests not swerving to avoid hitting a deer, as doing so might lead to damages that may not be covered. The counterintuitive nature of insurance coverage in such scenarios prompts drivers to consider the potential consequences of their actions in the face of unpredictable events. 

Some insurance companies claim comprehensive coverage does not include hitting another car or object due to swerving to avoid a deer. In many cases, you would need additional collision insurance for such accidents.

Deer collisions — or avoiding such — are easy “gotchas” for insurance companies. When selecting a policy, consider choosing one that includes coverage for both the swerve and the collision.

Bottom line

As these unusual auto mishaps show, insurance is not a one-size-fits-all solution. The Colorado car tipping incident, the Ohio Supreme Court ruling, the San Diego family's insurance saga, and the complexities of deer collisions collectively paint a picture of the varied challenges individuals may face in securing financial protection.

A key takeaway is the necessity for policyholders to delve into the specifics of their coverage, keeping abreast of potential pitfalls and understanding the nuances that could shape the financial aftermath of unforeseen events on the road. As bizarre as these stories may seem, they underscore the importance of being informed and vigilant in the face of the unexpected twists and turns that can define our journeys on the road.


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Author Details

Georgina Tzanetos Georgina Tzanetos is a former financial advisor who has been active in financial media for the past six years. She holds a master's in political economy from NYU, where she studied distressed labor markets.