What is the status of the law on the "reguilar use exclusion" in your state when it comes to uninsured or underinsured motorist cases?
A Majority Opinion (and three concurring opinions) from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court yesterday, October 19, 2011, in Williams v. GEICO affirmed a regular use exclusion contained in a motor vehicle insurance policy. This case involved a state police officer injured in the course and scope of his employment. The driver who caused the accident was underinsrued and since the state police vehicles do not provide underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage he sought UIM coverage under his personal policy with GEICO. The GEICO policy contained a regular use exclusion and the Supreme Court was addressing whether the exclusion was valid in light of its precedent in Burstein v. Prudential Property & Cas. Ins. Co., 809 A.2d 204 (Pa. 2002) where the insured could not obtain UIM coverage on the work vehicle.
The Supreme Court majority opinion by Justice Orie Melvin upholds the exclusion. The Court indicates that the legislature should create a special public policy exception for first reponders and that their was no evidence in the record that Williams could not obtain UIM coverage on the GEICO policy wihtout the exclusion. (see page 18) The Court writs that, "[i]n summary, we reaffirm the decision in Burstein, holding that the regular-use exclusion is not void as against public policy. A contrary decision is untenable, as it wouldrequire insurers to compensate for risks they have not agreed to insure, and for which premiums have not been collected." The Court affirms the Superior Court’s memorandum opinion.
For a copy of the various opinions feel free to contact Scott B. Cooper at Schmidt Kramer.
Scott B. Cooper
Schmidt Kramer PC
209 State Street
Harrisburg, PA 17101
(717) 232-6300 – Telephone
(717) 232-6467 – Facsimile