A woman in Missouri just made millions of dollars from suing one of the biggest insurance companies in the world. Her lawsuit may have just changed the entire landscape for insurance policies. Car insurance policies can cover many different damages to a person involved with the insured driver, but does it cover STD infections?
The woman who recently became a few million dollars richer, contracted an STD from an insured car owner and a court ruled on June 7 that a lower court’s decision to award the woman monetary damages was deemed appropriate.
GEICO must pay millions of dollars to a woman who contracted an STD in an insured vehicle.
In February 2021, a Missouri woman notified GEICO that she contracted a sexually transmitted disease from her boyfriend at the time after they had intercourse in his 2014 Hyundai Genesis. The man was insured by GEICO and the woman sought monetary damages for contracting the STD. The two people had been in a romantic relationship since 2017. The car owner was diagnosed with HPV (human papillomavirus) before the sexual intercourse occurred in the car.
After being diagnosed, the now ex-boyfriend continued to have unprotected intercourse with the woman and never told her about having the STD. In May 2021, a Jackson County Circuit Court ruled that the intercourse in the Hyundai Genesis directly contributed to the HPV infection, and awarded the ex-girlfriend $5.2 million. GEICO filed for an appeal of the court decision, claiming that it was denied due process and the arbitration deal wasn't enforceable.
According to court documents, the insurance company claimed in its appeal that the car owner’s policy only covered injuries that result “out of the ownership, maintenance or use of the … auto,” and her “injuries arose from an intervening cause — namely, her failure to prevent transmission of STDs by having unprotected sex.” The Missouri Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the lower court and ruled that GEICO must make the $5.2 million payment to the woman.
One of the appeal judges stated that existing law “relegates the insurer to the status of a bystander,” with that bystander being the ex-girlfriend. The court also stated that GEICO didn’t have the right to “relitigate those issues” once the lower court already determined damages and made the judgment. The court ruling will certainly provoke insurance companies to review their policies and make necessary updates to ensure that a situation like that doesn’t occur again.
Does car insurance cover STDs?
There isn't a clear law stating that an auto insurance policy must cover STD infections from the insured driver, especially with each insurance company having its own specific terms when it comes to liability policies.
In this woman’s case, GEICO’s insurance policy does cover the woman contracting an STD. However, this doesn’t mean that people in similar situations will be successful in their lawsuits as well. Car insurance covering STDs will vary depending on the situation and the insurance company involved.