How can you find out if the driver of the car which hit your motorcycle has additional insurance, excess insurance or umbrella insurance?
The NYS DMV has the database which lawyers use to search for insurance. We have an account with the DMV which allows us to search by license plate or the name of the driver and owner of the car. However, the DMV database does not indicate the existence of an umbrella or excess insurance because only minimum insurance coverage is required by law.
We know how to search for insurance including umbrella insurance; excess insurance; and other insurance policies not disclosed by the insurance company. Make sure you get all the money you deserve for your injury.
We also have an account with LexisNexis for doing an asset search, but this database does not list umbrella or excess insurance policies. How long does an asset search take? Only a few minutes. What will an asset search show? An asset search will show ownership of the following:
- Real estate with reports of any outstanding mortgages, equity lines and liens;
- Boats; and
Before going after the personal assets of someone who negligently caused your motorcycle injuries, we still need to find and make a claim against any existing umbrella or excess insurance, even where the person may own a house with a lot of equity. However, someone can have a $2,000,000 umbrella insurance policy and own a home worth $1.5 million with a mortgage of $1.2 million and an equity line of another $250,000 or more.
Going after a house mortgaged as much as this will yield no money because after obtaining a judgment after trial, the house will have to be sold at auction which will yield less money than a normal sale, incur substantial fees, and both the mortgage bank and the bank with the equity line will have to be paid back first.
To find umbrella insurance or excess insurance, your attorney can ask the insurance company (for the driver who caused your motorcycle accident) if there is umbrella insurance. They may tell the truth but insurance companies have occasionally been known to hide the existence of umbrella insurance. It’s very difficult to find out if they lied and they have nothing to lose because nothing happens to them if they get caught!
If the insurance company denies knowledge of any umbrella insurance, you can request the driver and owner of the car to sign an affidavit stating that there isn’t any but they may not cooperate and they can also lie. We always try to get an affidavit but there is a better way.
The best way to discover the existence of an insurance policy: Every insurance policy is listed in a national insurance database called the Claims Loss Underwriters Exchange (CLUE). CLUE is like a credit reporting agency but is used by insurance companies and only insurance companies are allowed access.
Unfortunately, lawyers are not permitted to search this national insurance database and most lawyers have no idea how to search it. However, we have an arrangement with someone who does have access and we have found umbrella insurance which an insurance company denied existed.
Riders injured in motorcycle accidents usually have injuries worth considerably more than you think and considerably more than the insurance liability limit of the car which struck you. That’s why it’s so important to search for umbrella insurance.
Some of the common motorcycle accident injuries each of which alone are valuable include:
The above injuries and the photos showing these injuries are frequently seen in motorcycle accidents and are often worth substantially more than the insurance available from the driver of the car which caused your motorcycle accident.
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Motorcycle Attorney Phil Franckel talks about how motorcycle accidents are different
Philip L. Franckel, Esq. is the author of all articles and content on this website, one of the Personal Injury Dream Team™ Founding Partners at 1-800-HURT-911® New York, well-known for representing motorcyclists. He has a 10 Avvo rating; Avvo Client’s Choice with all 5-star reviews; Avvo Top Contributor; and is a former Member of the Board of Directors of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association. Mr. Franckel created the motorcycle awareness campaign BE AWARE MOTORCYCLES ARE EVERYWHERE®.
Founding Partner Rob Plevy, Esq.
Robert Plevy, Esq. is a motorcycle accident lawyer and one of the Personal Injury Dream Team™ Founding Partners at 1-800-HURT-911® New York. Robert began his legal career in 1993 as an Assistant Corporation Counsel defending The City of New York against personal injury lawsuits.