Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Tioga County Decision Continues Trend of Courts Regularly Upholding Regular Use Exclusion in UIM Cases


In his recent decision in the Tioga County case of Maser v. Erie Ins. Exchange, No. 998 of 2012 Civil Div. (C.P. Tioga Co. Aug. 28, 2014 Leete, S.J), Senior Judge Leete of Potter County, specially presiding in Tioga County, upheld Erie Insurance’s application of the Regular Use Exclusion.

Under the Erie Insurance policy terms at issue, it was provided in a Regular Use Exclusion that Erie would not provide UIM coverage for any vehicle that its insured did not own, but regularly used.

In Maser, the Plaintiff was injured while driving his employer’s dump truck, which he did every work day.  The Plaintiff admitted that the vehicle was available for his “regular use” per the policy.  

However, the Plaintiff challenged the exclusion on public policy grounds, arguing that the carrier could ask about other vehicles the policyholder regularly used and charge an increased premium.

The Plaintiff also argued that the UIM coverage under the Erie policy was “illusory” because the claimant drove the dump truck most of the time and hardly ever drove the insured vehicles.

Judge Leete rejected these arguments of the Plaintiff and followed the several appellate cases upholding the enforceability of the regularly used non-owned vehicle exclusion.

Anyone wishing to review this decision may click this LINK.

I send thanks to the prevailing defense attorney Craig Murphey of the Erie, PA law office of MacDonald, Illig, Jones & Britton, LLP for bringing this case to my attention.

To review other Tort Talk posts on the Regular Use Exclusion, you can always go to the Tort Talk blog at www.TortTalk.com and scroll down the right hand column to the “Labels” section and click on the Label for “Regularly Used Non-Owned Exclusion."

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