Insurance Company Misuse of the "Permission to Settle" Rule
by Donald Ray Burger
Attorney at Law

Unless you or your spouse rejected it in writing, you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage as part of your Texas Auto Policy. That coverage is designed to protect you in the event you are injured by a person who has no insurance (uninsured) or not enough insurance (underinsured) to compensate you for your injuries.

Sometimes people try to settle their cases on their own. You might be negotiating with the insurance company of the person who ran into you, only to discover that that person only has limited insurance. Your damages may far exceed the insurance coverage the guilty party has. Let's say you settle with the guilty party's insurance company or with the guilty party himself if he has no insurance. You might then contact your insurance company to recover the balance of your damages from your own insurance company under your uninsured/underinsured coverage.

Your insurance company probably won't warn you, but practically all Texas automobile underinsured motorist coverage policies say that you must get permission from your own insurance company before you settle your claim with the person who ran into you. If you didn't, the insurance company may claim that you voided your uninsured/underinsured coverage and that they don't have to pay on your UM/UIM coverage because you didn't get their permission before you settled with the guilty party!

If your insurance company tells you this, RUN, don't walk, to an attorney. It is almost always the case that the insurance company is conveniently ignoring decisions from the Texas Courts that are in your favor. However, you will almost certainly need a lawyer to straighten out the insurance company.

Written by Donald Ray Burger, Attorney at Law
Last revised: January 23, 1997

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