Automobile Insurance Policy

Oops! That’s what someone from Aledo, Hurst, Euless, Bedford, De Soto, Dallas, Fort Worth, Grand Prairie, Arlington, and other cities might say when they wait too long to consult with an experienced Insurance Law Attorney. When a claim is denied it is vital that the person who has that claim denied contact an attorney asap.
The Court of Appeals of Texas, El Paso, rendered a decision on August 24, 2010, where it appears the claimant waited too long to make their claim. The style of this case is, Sonia Caballero de Rangel and Eliazar Rangel v. Progressive County Mutual Insurance Company. The opinion is written by Justice, Ann Crawford McClure.
Here are some facts. On October 20, 2001, the Rangels purchased a vehicle. On the same day they obtained insurance coverage from Progressive for the vehicle. On June 3, 2006, the Rangels drove the vehicle to Juarez, Mexico, and it was stolen. Ms Rangel told a claims adjuster that she drove the vehicle to Juarez on a daily basis because her mother cared for her children. When the adjuster asked if she had driven it thirty times to Juarez in the month, Ms Rangel stated, “No, approximately 20 times per month … I would estimate.” Progressive denied the Rangels theft claim based on a provision in the policy excluding coverage if the vehicle was driven into Mexico more than ten times in the thirty day period leading up to the actual date of loss.
The 2001 policy included the following language related to the Mexico coverage:
The coverages for your covered auto provided by this policy are extended to accidents occurring in Mexico within 25 miles of the United States border. This extension only applies for infrequent trips into Mexico that do not exceed ten days at any one time.
A later policy in effect at the time of the vehicle’s theft included additional language defining the term “infrequent:”
Coverage for your covered vehicle under this policy is extended to accidents occurring in Mexico, but only if within 25 miles of the United States border. This limited extension of coverage only applies to infrequent trips into Mexico that do not exceed (10) days at any one time. ‘Infrequent trips’ means less than 10 trips into Mexico during the thirty (30) day period leading up to and including the actual date of loss …
The Rangels filed suit alleging causes of action for breach of the insurance contract, common law insurance bad faith, negligence, negligent misrepresentation, negligent claims handling, and violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act and the Texas Insurance Code. The claims are based on two distinct allegations. First, the Rangels assert that Progressive misrepresented the terms of the policy’s Mexico coverage by representing when it sold the policy to them on October 20, 2001, that the Mexico coverage had no limit on the frequency of trips into Mexico. The negligent misrepresentation cause of action, and a portion of the DTPA and Insurance Code causes of action, are based on this allegation. We will refer to these as the misrepresentation causes of action. Second, the Rangels allege that Progressive wrongfully denied their theft claim in 2006. This allegation is the foundation of the Rangels’ breach of contract, common law insurance bad faith, negligence, negligent claims handling, and the remainder of their DTPA and Insurance Code causes of action.
What ultimately happened in this case is the court ruled against the Rangels at the Summary Judgment portion of the case. One would have to read the case to follow the time lines but the case was ultimately thrown out of court because these time lines had not been properly followed. A few of the relevant time lines are cited in the Texas Civil Practices & Remedies Code, Section 16.003, Texas Business & Commerce Code, Section 17.565, and Texas Insurance Code, Section 541.162.
This whole case has to deal with time line violations. The lesson to be drawn is to seek an experienced Insurance Law Attorney early in the claims process and do not delay or put off seeking advice.