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Car Insurance Doesn’t Pay Out For Road Rage

A recent decision handed down by the Colorado Appeals court highlighted a case that auto insurers rarely come across, a policyholder who was pursuing compensation for an incident of road rage that happened outside of their car.

Chanson Roque and Shannon Isenhour brought the case against their insurer after Richard Terlingen injured them. They were beaten with a golf club after an initial argument that took place on the road. According to court testimony, the three parties involved pulled into a McDonald’s parking lot after arguing while driving. Terlingen blocked Roque and Isenhour in, parking his car behind theirs so they could not move. Terlingen then proceeded to assault them with his golf club.

Roque and Isenhour first filed a claim with Terlingen’s insurer in regards to their injuries. After that claim was unsuccessful they sued their own insurer, Allstate for damages under the uninsured motorist section of their policy. Their argument was that since Terlingen’s insurer would not cover their damages, technically he was an uninsured driver.

Allstate, just like Terlingen’s insurer argued that since the incident took place outside of their car, it did not fall under the coverage of their car insurance. This argument convinced the court, which ruled in their favor.

Insurance experts claim that while these cases are rare they seem to pop up every couple of years. While insurers rarely deal with these types of claims, in most cases they tend to end up in the news.

Previous Cases Drove Decision

The last major case in Colorado concerning road rage was decided back in 2003. The case involved a woman suing State Farm after being kidnapped and sexually assaulted in her car. She argued that since the assault happened in her car, she should be able to make a claim on her car insurance.

The court was not swayed and ruled that the car was not directly involved in causing her injuries.

Road rage cases tend to end up in court due to confusion and disagreement over the language used in insurance policies. Road rage tends to be a gray area so these cases sometimes lead to legal action.

One of the bigger legal issues addressed in the Colorado case was whether or not a “causal connection” was created between the injuries and the car when a vehicle was used to block in another car. The court considered a number of cases including the 2003 decision and other rulings dating back to the 1980’s.

The ruling found that using a car to block an escape to commit assault did not create a direct link and it did not justify a pay out on the car insurance coverage.

While an appeal has not been filed, if Roque and Isenhour decide to pursue an appeal it would bring the case up to the Supreme Court. Experts doubt that the Supreme Court would consider the case. 

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