Monday, September 9, 2013

Household Exclusion Found Ambiguous in Blair County Case

In her August 5, 2013 Opinion and Order from the Court of Common Pleas of Blair County in Riley v. Harleysville, No. 2013 GN 19 (C.P. Blair Co. Aug. 5, 2013 Doyle, P.J.), President Judge Elizabeth A. Doyle addressed the application of the household exclusion in an underinsured motorist (UIM) case. 

At the time of the accident, the injured party was operating a vehicle owned by a plumbing company and a co-purchaser who was her husband.  The plaintiff recovered against the tortfeasor and under the UIM policy covering the vehicle she was in at the time.  

She then turned her personal auto policy with Harleysville for excess UIM coverage.  Harleysville denied the claim under the household exclusion in the policy.

Judge Doyle ruled that the exclusion did not apply in this case because it was ambiguous under the circumstances presented.  More specifically, the court found that the definition of "you" in the Harleysville policy was deemed to be ambiguous under the facts of the case.  The injured party was therefore permitted to recover UIM benefits.

A review of the Opinion itself will clarify why the court found the definition of “you” in the context of this case.  Anyone wishing to review the Riley opinion may click this LINK.

I send thanks to Attorney Scott Cooper of the Harrisburg, PA law firm of Schmidt Kramer for bringing this case to my attention.


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