Strategies, Challenges, and Answers

Adjusting Claims Involving Intoxicated Insureds Can Be Complicated

Adjusting Claims Involving Intoxicated InsuredsIn Nevada, there’s alcohol everywhere.  Or so that is what many visitors believe as they find themselves partaking in “just one more” at every stop of their visit.  Even some locals live up to the outsider’s stereotypical view of a Las Vegas resident by overdoing it a bit too often.

However, like every other state, Nevada has strict laws against driving while intoxicated.  Seasoned adjusters know the many complications that can arise when dealing with a claim involving an intoxicated insured.

It is against the law to drive a vehicle in Nevada if you are intoxicated.  NRS 484C.110.  Driving intoxicated with an accident causing serious bodily injury or death is a felony.  NRS 484C.430.  In addition, drunk drivers are subject to having their driver’s licenses revoked.  A person is presumed to be intoxicated if their blood alcohol concentration is 0.08 or greater.  Id.  These same types of presumptions can apply for other intoxicants as well.

In addition to criminal sanctions, the law will revoke the driver’s license of intoxicated drivers.  NRS 484C.210.

Like the authorities, adjusters deal with the consequences of these accidents after the fact.  Questions inevitably arise regarding claims handling and coverage.  For example, an intoxicated driver can be assessed punitive damages over and above any compensatory damages that may be awarded in a civil case.  NRS 42.010.  Even if there is an iron-clad coverage exclusion for punitive damages, how does the claims handler deal with issue of compensatory damages in light of the punitive damage exposure?  Does a claims handler have to pay the policy limit on every drunk driving claim because of the insured’s exposure to punitive damages?  There are even some specialty policies that try to exclude coverage altogether when the driver is drunk.  Some criminal courts award “restitution” for medical bills incurred by the injured party.  Does that “judgment of restitution” become a judgment payable under the liability portion of the policy?  On the restitution question, perhaps you can find your answer HERE and HERE

If you have questions about claims handling where the insured is intoxicated, contact Mike at Mills & Associates to discuss the issue.  He can be reached at 702‑240‑6060, ext. 114.  Mike is available to talk to you.  Mike works with the insured’s criminal defense attorney and meets with incarcerated insureds to gather information about claims on your desk.

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