The Pennsylvania Supreme Court heard intense arguments this past Tuesday over the validity of regular use exclusions in certain UM/UIM policies. Should insurance companies be able to exclude this coverage on vehicles used regularly by policyholders if they do not own or insure them? The other question is whether regular use exclusions violate Pennsylvania’s Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law.
Defendants Say Superior Court Ignored Precedent and Misinterpreted Statutory Provisions
Attorneys for the defendants in this case argue that upholding the lower court’s rejection of the regular use exception would invalidate all exclusions. Under this interpretation, McCormick & Priore shareholder Glen Shikunov argues this is a decision that would fully bar providers from placing any limitations on their UM/UIM coverage.
Scott Cooper – for the Plaintiff
On the plaintiff’s side, attorneys say that allowing regular use exceptions would deprive coverage for a large population of drivers carrying UM/UIM protection.
Schmidt Kramer partner Scott Cooper, co-counsel for the plaintiff, spoke to the Legal Intelligencer, saying that a win for the defendants would have “dire consequences” for policyholders.
Cooper says of the regular use exclusion, “This only punishes people for working.” Those who work jobs where they have to drive vehicles they do not own would be deprived of the coverage they need. He goes on to say, “This is the worst exclusion that could ever have been enforced.”
Attorneys for the plaintiff argue that UM/UIM coverage is designed to ensure the negligence of other parties, rather than the negligence of the insured. Additionally, since insurance follows the person, rather than the vehicle, it should not matter what vehicle the policyholder is driving.
Justice Christine Donohue questioned both sides regarding the portability of UM/UIM insurance. She seemed to find the attorneys for the plaintiff’s argument compelling, commenting, “If it’s intended to be portable, then you can’t have exclusions that make it not portable.”