Car insurance fight challenges VA same sex marriage law - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

On Your Side Investigators: Car insurance fight challenges VA same-sex marriage law

Posted: Updated:
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA (WWBT) -

Many of us have fought with a car insurance company over a claim, but a Chester couple is taking their battle to court, and it could be a landmark legal decision for Virginia.

At 65 miles an hour on Interstate 95, another driver with no insurance turned Kimberly Tucker and Jennifer Frazier's world upside down.

"All of a sudden, she hits the car. We end up going into the guardrail. I've never been so scared before in my life," said Tucker.

"First thing I was thinking, 'Oh my God, we're going to die,'" added Frazier.

Tucker now needs a cane to get around. She injured her back and has nerve damage and a weakened left leg. The couple has been together for seven years. At the time of the crash in June of 2010, they were married just 17 days.

"I did not cause the accident. I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time," said Tucker.

The other driver didn't have insurance. With her medical bills mounting, Tucker tried to access her wife Frazier's underinsured motorist coverage. She also tried to access the same coverage of her in-laws, who they live with.

State Farm Mutual Auto Insurance denied the claim.

"State Farm's position is that a same sex marriage that is recognized in another place other than Virginia is not recognized under this Virginia policy," said Lori Smith, the couple's attorney.

Smith argues, if the couple lived in D.C., State Farm would honor the claim because gay marriage is legal there and that's where they got married. She says the policy doesn't mention that a marriage must be recognized by the state where you live. 

"There would be no issue if this couple were man and woman," said Smith.

They are suing Sate Farm in federal court for access to $350,000 in insurance policies. In court documents State Farm argues "no coverage is available under the policies in question."

"It makes you feel really bad, like you're not as important as other people," said Tucker through tears. "If another couple, who were husband and wife, had the same thing happen to them, they wouldn't have any problems. But for us, nothing happens."

"It's frustrating. It makes me angry. Because we can't move on with our lives until this is resolved," added Frazier.

Prior to the accident, they lived active lives, attending sporting events, playing softball, going fishing - all of those activities now a stretch with Kimberly's injuries. They hope going public with their private battle opens doors.

"If it doesn't help us, eventually it's going to help somebody, and that's important," said  Tucker. 

We reached out to State Farm's attorney for comment or an on camera interview. He declined. The case is in federal court in Charlottesville and could be headed for a trial.

Copyright 2013 WWBT NBC12.  All rights reserved.

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