Loss of vehicle in crash exposes insurance loophole

Rare policy covers only drivers specifically named in the policy

SAN ANTONIO - A San Antonio couple with a smashed car is criticizing the state of Texas for allowing insurance companies to write policies that cover only people named on the policy.

Tyree and Vickie Sampson said their 1991 Acura Integra was crashed into by a pickup truck in July of last year. The crash occurred while Tyree Sampson was deployed in Iraq and the Integra was parked outside his house while Vickie was home.

"This is devastating to our family," said Vickie Sampson.

She said she found out the truck was covered by Fred Loya Insurance. But she was dismayed to learn the policy did not cover the driver who was in the truck at the time.

"Our insurance wouldn't cover anything, his insurance wouldn't cover anything and we're ... out a vehicle," said Vickie Sampson.

The Sampsons filed a complaint with the Texas Department of Insurance and asked a lawyer for help -- with no luck.

"I can't even begin to tell you how frustrating it is," said Tyree Sampson.

Very few companies even write "named" policies, according to Mark Hanna, from the Insurance Council of Texas. He said they are also among the cheapest available.

"A lot of times, that's not the best thing for the person driving the vehicle," Hanna said.

He said most companies would have paid for the vehicles damaged in this crash -- no matter who was driving the truck.

Texas consumers are advised to think and compare before buying insurance.

"Don't be going in there with a mindset of, 'I'm going to get the cheapest thing possible because the coverage is also going to be cheap,'" Hanna said.

The Sampsons are still hoping Fred Loya will pay the claim, but Loya does not rank well in terms of complaints, according to TDI statistics. Of insurance companies in Texas with more than 200,000 policies, Fred Loya ranks second in terms of the complaint ratio, or complaints per policyholder.

While the Sampsons are without a vehicle, they wanted to spread the word about policies like that, allowed by the state of Texas.

Insurance experts say one way the Sampsons could have avoided that disaster is if they had had uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage on their vehicle.

They say at that time they could not afford it.


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