Thursday, May 28, 2020

Court Addresses Question of Residency in UIM Case

In the case Geico Cas. Co. v. Alicea, No. 17-315-E (W.D. Pa. Sept. 26, 2019 Bloch, J.), the court addressed the issue of whether the insureds qualified as household members under a stacked UIM policy entitling them to higher limit for UIM coverage for an accident. The court granted the motion in part and denied in motion in part with respect to different individuals seeking coverage.

After noting that the UIM policy at issue did not define the term “reside” or “residing,” the court turned to Pennsylvania law under which the courts had adopted the classical definition of the term of “residents” as well as classical definition of the related term of “domicile.”

The court noted that other decisions had indicated that, although these two (2) words may be used in the same context, the word 'resident' as used in an insurance policy without additional words of refinement, such as 'permanent,' 'legal,' etc., would carry a more transitory meaning. The court further noted that the word 'residence', being more transitory, is not to be considered to be synonymous with the term 'domicile' in this context.

After applying the law to the facts before it and emphasizing that the focus of the question of residency is on factual physical presence as opposed to intent to remain, the court issued its decision granting the motions at issue in part and denying them in part based upon different situations pending with the different insureds as issue.

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK.

I send thanks to Attorney Craig Murphey of the Erie, Pennsylvania law firm of Purchase, George & Murphey, P.C. for bringing this case to my attention.

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