“NO ACCIDENT WITHOUT A GUILT!”
That morning, Elena Z., slowly, was driving to work. The next business negotiations promised to be difficult, and she turned her thoughts to the upcoming meeting. And the road required attention - frosty December, now and then sections of bare ice. Once again, hitting such a skating rink, the car suddenly skidded sharply. Lena frantically tried to level the car, but, probably, there was not enough experience: the passenger car, having lost control, crashed into a roadside ditch, turned over onto the roof.
Praising herself for the habit of buckling on, Elena tried to get out of the mangled car. Fortunately, an old Moskvich quickly drove up to the scene of the accident, from where two jumped out and helped get out of the snowy ditch. It was a pity to look at the car - the one-year-old Volkswagen Golf instantly became a pile of scrap metal. “Iron is nonsense,” the woman reassured herself, “everything is insured, the main thing is itself intact …”
Traffic police arrived quickly … less than three (!) Hours. The inspector immediately “went on the attack” - accused Elena of driving while intoxicated. The argument was convincing: “Well, can a sober driver just“fly out of the way”for no reason!” Even when the “pipe”, to the surprise of traffic police officers, recorded a complete absence of alcohol in the blood (later the same conclusion was confirmed test by a narcologist), they did not reconcile: “There is no accident without a culprit!” Well, if there is only one driver, you need to “hang the dogs” on him. As a result, a resolution appeared in which Helen was charged with violation of paragraphs 9.1 and 10.1 of the Rules and a decision was made under article 12.15 part 2 of the Administrative Code. Guilty and must pay a fine of 200 rubles!
Without expecting any trick, Elena came to an insurance company, where she was insured by AutoCASCO, hoping to get money quickly and without hassle. If she knew what she would have to face … She was already insured in the National Insurance League, infamous to our readers of the NSL (we have sued her more than once, see, for example, ZR, 2004, No. 1).
Unlike the day when Elena came here to pay a fee, they met her at the office more than coolly. We had to wait an hour in the reception room before being invited to the office of a company lawyer.
- So you yourself are to blame! - Immediately said an unrepresented young man. - In our rules it is written: if an insured event occurred as a result of a violation by the insured of the current legislation, the insurance indemnity is not paid. So I can’t help you with anything. All the best!
True, for some reason the young man refused to repeat the same thing in writing. Elena had no choice but to come to us. It was December 2002 …
LAW IS LAW
I must say that such situations are not uncommon today. Strictly speaking, the refusal of the NSL to pay insurance indemnity formally could be considered legal. As we have already written more than once, the rules of voluntary insurance, unlike the rules of compulsory liability insurance, each company has its own. They are an integral part of the contract between the client and the company and are binding on both parties. And any violation of the rules by the client is the basis for the refusal to pay insurance compensation. But only formally. Everything is far from simple.
Insurance, of course, should not be a tool to protect offenders. The law (article 928 of the Civil Code) expressly prohibits the insurance of illegal interests. Otherwise, anyone could insure, for example, the risk of paying a fine for violating the Rules of the Road or the risk of incurring criminal penalties for committing a crime. It is not difficult to guess what this would lead to. That's just self-respecting companies (and customers) directly stipulate what exactly should be understood as “illegal interests”, otherwise the meaning of insurance will be completely lost. The words “Violation of the current legislation” are too general, and insurers dishonest, trying to hide behind them, try to refuse to pay the client. After all, any violation of the Rules is nothing but a violation of applicable law. Therefore, if you get into an accident and find himself the culprit, you can’t see the money with a cleverly drawn up contract. And it will be pointless to sue - the client’s signature is in the insurance policy: he is familiar with the rules of this company and has committed himself to strictly abide by them. The court will refuse the lawsuit.
But, you must admit: it’s one thing when the client is a malicious violator of the Rules and got into an accident as a result of a deliberate violation (for example, he drove into the oncoming lane to go around the traffic jam or got behind the wheel while intoxicated). In this case, he really should be fully responsible for the harm done to him, and the refusal of the insurance company will be completely fair. It’s completely different - when an accident occurs due to a simple accident, even if inattention, but not in any way the malicious intent of the client! It is for such cases that voluntary insurance exists. For the fact that the company assumes certain risks of the client, she receives money.
In our case, there was no intent on the part of Elena, although the fact remained that in accordance with the decision of the traffic police there was a violation of the Rules in the actions of Z. From a formal point of view, this did not mean at all that she was unequivocally to blame for the accident. The issue of guilt in an accident is decided only by the court. But if you sue the NSL, having this decision in hand, it will be quite difficult to prove Elena's innocence. Practice shows that in such cases, courts more often take the side of the traffic police. Based on this, we decided to appeal the decision. Fortunately, the ten-day period for appeal has not yet passed, and we wrote a complaint addressed to the head of the traffic police department.
The boss, fortunately for us, turned out to be not only a real professional, but also an extremely nice person. The whole conversation took no more than half an hour. He carefully listened to us, read the complaint and … apologized for the actions of his employee. Then he canceled the decision.
We waited 10 days - the time required for this decision to take effect - and together with Elena we went to the insurance company. Not really counting on success, they wrote a statement and attached a resolution of the traffic police to it. The same young man, without batting an eye, repeated his tirade word for word, after which, a little softer, added: “Well, if you want, we will pay you 4 thousand dollars …” Thank you, of course, for such unheard of generosity, but the amount, indicated in the insurance policy, which the insurance company is obliged to pay to Elena in case of theft or complete destruction of the car, is almost three and a half times more - 14 thousand (!) dollars. We had no choice but to go to court.
A LESSON IS NOT A PROCESS