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Pennsylvania Superior Court Deals Blow to ‘Regular Use’ Exclusion in UM/UIM Policies

scott cooper head shotThe Pennsylvania state Superior Court dealt a blow to insurance companies with its ruling in Rush v. Erie Insurance Exchange. The three-judge panel upheld a ruling that invalidates the “regular use” exclusion to uninsured/underinsured motorist policies.

Schmidt Kramer partner Scott Cooper is an attorney for the plaintiff in the case and said the courts are “doing exactly what we’ve been hoping they’d do all these years, which is enforce the law as it is written and as the legislature intended it.”  

The original ruling was made by the Northampton County Court of Common Pleas’ and was upheld by the panel consisting of the following judges: Alice Dubow, John Bender and Correale Stevens. The Superior Court said regular use exclusions go against the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law.

The case concerns a police detective whose police vehicle was hit by two vehicles, causing him to suffer injuries. The detective, Matthew Rush, went to court to resolve a dispute with his insurance company, Erie Insurance Exchange.

Policies from this insurance company exclude coverage if the crash happened in a vehicle the victim regularly uses but does not own or insure with Erie Insurance Exchange.

In the Superior Court decision, Judge Dubow wrote that the language of the Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law prohibits the exclusion of UM/UIM coverage based on the regular use of a vehicle that is listed as occasionally used.

Dubow wrote that the regular use exclusion conflicts with broad language in Section 1731(c). This section requires UIM coverage to be made available when the insured is injured by using a motor vehicle. Dubow said the language of the law is “clear and unambiguous.”

Cooper said this is an important ruling as insurers “have been getting a free ride all these years.”