Okay, maybe some full disclosure is required for this month’s column. I’m an adoptive parent and with that comes a fierce and unbending belief in the pit of my soul that says when I’m asked “Who’s the proud father of these two beautiful children?” — the natural and only answer that ever comes to my mind is “me.” After all, the law says that my wife and I are the ones with all of the legal right to flood Facebook with endless sloppy ice cream face photos and all the legal obligation to comfort 3 a.m. tummy aches and scratchy skin. We’re the “parents” — right?
But at least one insurance company has found a crafty way to turn the sometimes dizzying dynamic of “biological” versus “legal” parent into an unsettling reason to deny claims by asserting that a biological (or “birth”) parent whose parental rights have been terminated through adoption or court process must still list that child on their car insurance application or risk having their claim denied – even if their parental rights were severed years, or even decades ago.
Anything less, they say is a misrepresentation entitling the insurer to deny a claim and void the insurance coverage if there is ever an accident. Which begs the question: How is the right answer under the law a misrepresentation under the insurance contract? For now, the courts will have to sort it out. But I say that if we can’t give our insurers answers that the law says are the true and correct ones then what good is the law?
Russel Lazega is an attorney and author of two of Florida’s most widely distributed legal textbooks on Florida Insurance Law. He also represents accident victims and consumers at war with their insurance companies and is based in North Miami, Dania Beach, Orlando and Tampa, Florida. Questions? Contact: [email protected].