If you’re robbing a bank and get in an accident while making a getaway, don’t expect your car insurance company to cover it. Most policies don’t offer coverage for damages that occur while committing a crime.
But most crimes aren’t quite so overt, so how does an insurance company know if a claim happened while committing a crime and where do they draw the line? For example, possessing or using a fake vaccine card is a federal crime, so what happens if you are in an accident and the police discover your counterfeit vaccine card?
According to Policygenius expert and former claims adjuster Bryan Tate, most claims denied for criminal activity involve intentional use of a car in an illegal way. “Intentional acts would certainly be excluded, like if you are using your vehicle to try and assault someone [or] intentionally run them over, [but] the mere commission of a crime won't necessarily preclude coverage unless the policy has specific language in an exclusion stating so.”
There are other, more common situations where a car insurance company might choose to deny a claim due to criminal activity, including driving with a suspended license, racing, or driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Insurance companies may or may not choose to pay for claims that happen in these circumstances, depending on the details of your insurance policy.
Fake vaccination cards
2021 has seen numerous news stories about people being arrested for using, buying, or selling fake COVID-19 vaccination cards. Buying, selling, or using a counterfeit vaccine card is a felony that can be punished by up to five years in jail and a fine of several thousand dollars. But what does this have to do with car insurance?
A car insurance claim can be denied if the driver is in the process of committing a crime, which means people who are in an accident on their way to use or sell the fake cards could potentially have an auto insurance claim denied. Experts are split on the likelihood of insurance companies denying claims for this reason, but the possibility of drivers with fake vaccine cards facing this situation is very real.
Ouriel Lemmel, the CEO and founder of ticket disputing app WinIt, says, “Driving across state or international borders with a fake vaccination card is not a good idea. It’s a felony and could be a serious issue if this was discovered during an accident, [even though] the risk of actually being caught is quite low.”
The National Insurance Crime Bureau and American Property Casualty Insurance Association, two industry groups, declined to comment on whether a fake vaccination card would be covered. The insurance experts who talked to Easy Money say the situation is new enough that there aren’t any rules regarding whether or not a charge or arrest for using a fake vaccine card during an auto accident would be enough to deny a claim.
However, as COVID-19 and its variants continue to spread, companies are taking additional steps to stop the disease. For example, large employers are starting to issue vaccine mandates and increase health insurance costs for the unvaccinated in an attempt to incentivize people to get vaccinated. As the situation worsens and new variants make their way into the population, auto insurance companies may find themselves unwilling to pay claims that can be connected to fake vaccine cards, both to avoid abetting a felony and also to do what they can to encourage people to get vaccinated.
The vast majority of insurance policies don’t include specific language regarding fake vaccine cards, which means they don’t specify exactly what will happen in this situation. As the pandemic continues and the number of arrests for fake vaccine cards climbs ever higher, people should expect to find new rules and regulations in a variety of places, potentially even in their auto insurance coverage.
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