Intent versus negligence. How it affects your car insurance claim.

“When deciding on whether someone should be covered in the event of a motor vehicle accident, an insurer may decide that a seemingly negligent driver actually acted with intent and should therefore not be covered and such insurer may apply criminal court judgments to do so.”

Many consumers could find their vehicle claims rejected by insurers if it can be argued that they acted with intent instead of negligence during a motor vehicle collision. So it’s important to understand that the law differentiates between different kinds of intent.

Having a clear understanding of the three kinds of intent can help to make drivers more mindful of their actions and possible liabilities.

Direct intent

Direct intent and indirect intent are the forms that are familiar to most people. When a person directly intends to cause damage and succeeds, an insurance policy will not respond. If, for instance, it can be proven that a driver deliberately collided into another vehicle to cause damage to the other vehicle, then direct intent is established.

Indirect intent

Indirect intent applies to the secondary consequences in addition to those desired by a perpetrator. This is when a driver directly intends one consequence of his conduct, but at the same time has knowledge that another consequence will unavoidably or inevitably also occur.

An example would be if it can be proven that a driver deliberately collided into another vehicle to cause damage, but knew that the other vehicle would be pushed into a third vehicle, indirect intent is established with regards to the damage to the third vehicle.



Intent-by-possibility is not always well understood by most drivers, but it is just as important in determining whether you acted intentionally or negligently and whether you should be covered. Intent-by-possibility is present when you do not desire to cause damage, but foresee the possibility that your actions or inaction may result in damage and reconcile yourself to this fact.

For example, you see another driver speeding towards a red light and you foresee that such other driver is not going to stop, but you do not stop and wait at the green light to avoid a collision, then your inaction constitutes an act of intent-by-possibility.

As a driver, you can better manage your risks by understanding your legal obligations.