Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Validity of a UIM Waiver of Stacking Form Reviewed by Pennsylvania Superior Court (Non-Precedential)

In the non-precedential decision by the Pennsylvania Superior Court in the case of DeCrosta v. Erie Insurance Group, No. 2982 E.D.A. 2016 (Pa. Super. Oct. 18, 2017) (Bender, P.J.E., Dubow and Musmanno, J.J.) (Mem. Op. by Musmanno, J.),  the court reviewed a dispute between an insured and its carrier over whether the insured was entitled to stacked UIM coverage under the case presented.  

The dispute between the parties revolved around the validity of a 2004 Waiver of Stacking Underinsured Motorist Coverage Limits form, and the continued application of that waiver through the removal of a motor vehicle from that policy and the addition of a separate vehicle in its place.  

The appellate court affirmed the trial court’s entry of summary judgment against the insured.   In so ruling, the appellate court rejected the insured’s arguments with respect to the waiver form allegedly being hand-dated by an anonymous person and given that there was no evidence produced concerning the validity of the allegedly anonymous dating of the document.  

The Superior Court noted that, in order to be valid under 75 Pa.C.S.A. Subsection 1738(d) of the MVFRL, a UM/UIM Stacked Insurance Waiver form must be signed, but not necessarily dated, by the insured.   In this case, there is no dispute that the insured had signed the waiver form.  

Accordingly, the appellate court found that the trial court did not err in ruling that the 2004 waiver form was valid and that its validity did not hinge upon who dated the document.  

As to the second issue raised by the Plaintiff, the court rejected the Plaintiff’s arguments with regard to whether a vehicle added to the policy constituted a “replacement vehicle, i.e., the insureds have merely replaced covered vehicle with another, and whether the carrier was required to present to the insured the opportunity to execute a new UM/UIM Waiver form.  

The appellate court affirmed the trial court’s Opinion that the vehicle added to the policy was a replacement vehicle under the definition provided by the policy.  As a replacement vehicle, the carrier was not required to have a new stacking waiver executed. 

Accordingly, the appellate court agreed with the trial court’s finding that the 2004 waiver form remained applicable and that, therefore, the insured had waived stacked coverage. 

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this non-precedential decision may contact me at dancummins@comcast.net
I send thanks to Attorney Domenic S. Sbrocchi of the King Spry law firm in Bethlehem, PA for bringing this case to my attention.

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