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Court Finds Lower UIM Coverage Applies Despite Underwriter Testimony

Judge Jones in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in Henderson v. Charter Oak Ins. Co., NO. 12-4363 (E.D. Pa. March 21, 2014) recently issued a Memorandum opinion in the case involving the sign down of underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage under a commercial policy.  In this case, the insured executed a proper sign down in 2008-09 under Section 1734 of the Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law (MVFRL) from $1 million of UIM coverage to $35,000 of UIM coverage. Then, in 2010-11 the sign down forms were not signed again and the only thing on the election was that the insured wanted the minimum UIM coverage.  An underwriter testified that the forms only apply from year to year. 

The Plaintiff insured argued that there was $1 million in UIM coverage because the form was not re-executed properly in 2010-11 and his accident occurred during that time period.  The insurance company denied the $1 million and said it was only $35,000 in coverage because the sign down under the policy once executed applied during the entire lifetime of that policy.

The Court finds that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court opinion in

    Blood v. Old Guard Ins. Co.

, 934 A.2d 1218 (Pa. 2007) controls.  The Blood case holds that the sign down form is good through the entire lifetime of the policy unless the company receives a written request for higher coverage.  In this case, there was no such written request so the District Court holds that the insured is only entitled to $35,000 in underinsured motorist coverage, despite any testimony from the underwriters.

For a copy of the Memorandum please feel free to contact Harrisburg Injury lawyer Scott Cooper at scooper@Schmidt

Call us at Schmidt Kramer Harrisburg Car Accident Injury Lawyers if you have any other questions.

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