Monday, January 4, 2016

UM/UIM Sign Down Form Upheld in Recent Federal Middle District Court Case

Federal Middle District Judge John E. Jones III recently ruled on the validity of UM/UIM sign down forms in the case of Kidd v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., No. 1:13-cv-2625 (M.D. Pa. Dec. 29, 2015 Jones, J.).

In this case the injured insured was, at one point, an insured under parent's State Farm policy.  Sign down forms were executed for the parent's policy for reduced UM/UIM coverage.

When the injured insured reached the age of majority, a decision was made by all involved that the injured insured would secure his own separate State Farm automobile insurance policy.  In the sign down forms utilized for this new coverage executed in 1998, a reference to the parent's policy number on the document was stricken and the policy number for the new, separate policy was inserted.

Later, the injured insured son purchased another vehicle and added it to his policy.  He also added his fianc√© to that policy.  No new sign-down forms were executed.

About eight years thereafter, the injured insured son was injured in an accident.  In following litigation, he sought higher UM/UIM limits under the policy which gave rise to this litigation.

Judge John E. Jones, III
M.D. Pa.
After a bench trial, the court ruled in favor of State Farm on the sign-down issues presented and found that, based upon the record before the court, a valid selection for reduced UM/UIM coverage in writing was effectuated in the 1998 documentation.  Plaintiff's arguments asserting that the sign-down forms created an ambiguity or that there was foul-play with the alteration of the policy number on the sign-down forms were rejected.  The court noted, in part, that the insured had paid reduced premiums for reduced coverage for years without complaint.

To review the court's Opinion in Kidd, including additional rationale not summarized here, click this LINK.

I send thanks to Attorney Tom McDonnell of the Pittsburgh law firm of Summers McDonnell for forwarding this decision to my attention.

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