The Eastern District of Pennsylvania recently issued its decision in a case involving the validity of an alleged written request for lower underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. The case is Olender v. National Casualty, NO. 11-4098 (E.D. Pa. Aug. 21, 2012) and focuses on whether an insured was covered with $35,000 or $100,000 for underinsured motorist coverage after being injured in a car crash.
The insurance company's position was that the limits were $35,000 because the insured executed a form for underinsured motorist coverage lower than the liability coverage. The insured argued that the coverage was really $100,000 because the insured signed both a form selecting underinsured motorist coverage equal to the liability coverage AND a portion of the same form signing and initialing for lower coverage to $35,000.
The Court agrees with the Plaintiff that "the form, taken as a whole, cannot be said to manifest a knowing and intentional desire to purchase reduced UIM coverage." In this case, the court finds that there were two elections made- one for the equal coverage and the other for the lower coverage. Since there are two different interpretations the ambiguity must be found in favor of the insured. Thus, the Court awards $100,000 in coverage and not $35,000.
For a copy of the Memorandum Opinion and Order feel free to contact Scott Cooper at Schmidt Kramer Pennsylvania Injury Lawyers in Harrisburg and Camp Hill at 1-800-232-6301 or email@example.com.