Thursday, June 11, 2020

Court Finds No Duty to Defend Owed by Liability Carrier Where Daughter Did Not Reside with Insured Mother



In the case of Progressive Cas. Ins. Co. v. Hansen, No. 2019-0968-Civil (C.P. Lawr. Co. April 14, 2020 Cox, J.), the court granted summary judgment in favor of an auto insurance carrier arising out of a Declaratory Judgment Action regarding a coverage dispute for liability coverage given residency issues with respect to the daughter of the insured policyholder.

In this case, the insured’s daughter was involved in an accident while driving her uncle’s vehicle. The injured parties filed suit and pursued liability insurance proceeds from the uncle’s policy, as well as the policy purchased by the insured daughter’s mother. The theory against the mother’s carrier was that the daughter should have been deemed a “resident relative” of her mother's residence, thus entitling the daughter to coverage.

The carrier argued that (1) the daughter/driver denied that she resided with her mother in written discovery responses, (2) both the daughter and mother both testified at their respective depositions that they did not reside together, and (3) the record showed that the mother had removed her daughter from her policy three weeks before the accident.

In its Opinion, the Court found the terms of the applicable insurance policy to be clear and unambiguous. 

The Court went on to note the distinction between domicile and residence, and found that there was no dispute that the insured’s daughter had moved to Florida to live with her brother prior to the accident. Although she returned to Pennsylvania numerous times, the record confirmed that it was never with the intent to change her residence.

As such, summary judgment was granted in favor of the carrier, and it was held as a matter of law that the mother’s insurer did not owe defense or indemnification to the daughter arising out of the accident.

Anyone wishing to review the Court’s decision in this matter may click this LINK

I send thanks to Attorney Aaron H.Weiss of the Pittsburgh law firm of Zimmer Kunz, P.C. for bringing this case to my attention.

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