Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Pennsylvania Superior Court Upholds Exclusion of Coverage for Resident Non-Family Members Not Listed On Auto Policy

In the case of Safe Auto Insurance v. Oriental-Guillermo, 2017 Pa. Super. 297 (Pa. Super. Sept. 18, 2017) (Dubow, J., Solano, J., and Ford Elliot, P.J.E) (Majority Op. by Dubow, J.) (Dissenting Op. by Ford Elliot, P.J.E.), the Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled that a automobile insurance policy issued by Safe Auto that excluded coverage for non-family members who live with the vehicle owner but who were not specifically included under the policy is enforceable under Pennsylvania’s Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law.  

The panel essentially ruled that the policy was consistent with the MVFRL because that statute places the burden of making sure a driver is insured on the vehicle owner, and not upon the insurance companies.

The court rejected the Plaintiff’s argument that Safe Auto’s provision violated the mandate of the MVFRL of having an owner ensure that all drivers are covered by insurance.   The court noted that the MVFRL does not require a shifting of the burden to the insurance companies to discover the identities of resident, non-family member insureds who may have access to an insured’s vehicle.  
Rather, the court felt that that burden was more appropriately placed in the hands of the insured.  
The Majority Opinion written by Judge Dubow can be viewed HERE.

The Dissenting Opinion by Judge Ford Elliott can be viewed HERE.

Source: Article “Superior Court Rules Unlisted Resident Driver Exclusion is Okay” by Max Mitchell. The Legal Intelligencer (September 22, 2017).  

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