Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Third Circuit: Unless An Automobile Insurance Carrier Issues a New Policy, No New UM/UIM Sign Down Forms Are Required

In the case of Geist v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 49 F.4th 861 (3rd Cir. Sept. 29, 2022 Randel, C.J.), the Third Circuit Court of Appeals addressed the issue of when an automobile insurance carrier may be required to secure updated UM/UIM sign down forms.

In this matter, when the insured had purchased the State Farm policy initially, two (2) vehicles were insured under the policy and the necessary forms were executed. Thereafter, the insured added a third vehicle. At that point in time, the insured did not execute a request for UIM coverage limits below the bodily injury coverage limits.

Thereafter, an insured under the policy was involved in a motor vehicle accident. After settling the tort claim against the Defendant driver, that Plaintiff turned to State Farm for UIM coverage. A dispute arose over the amount of UIM limits available.

The Plaintiff asserted that she should be provided with higher limits because State Farm did not secure a sign down form when another vehicle had been added to the policy. When State Farm disagreed, litigation ensued and eventually resulted in this decision.

The Plaintiff asserted that she was owed higher coverage because State Farm had not followed the requirements of 75 Pa. C.S.A. §1731 and 1734 relative to the forms at issue.

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals, after reviewing the existing case law, ruled that no events in the years prior to the subject motor vehicle accident triggered the obligations under §1731 and 1734 because State Farm had never issued a new policy to the insured. As such, the court found that State Farm was not obligated to seek a new written election for lower UIM coverage limits under the policy.

Rather, the court ruled that the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law only required carriers to seek elections of lower UIM coverage limits only when the carriers issue policies. State Farm was found to have satisfied their duties under the law when the secured the forms when the insured had executed the requisite forms when the policy was initially issued.

The court more specifically noted that both §1731 and 1734 expressly state that the requirements contained in those statutes apply, under §1731 when an insurance company is involved in the “delivery or issuance” of a “policy,” and §1734 applied when a carrier “issues a policy.”

The court in Geist went on to note that, once the carrier meets its obligations to secure the UIM sign down forms on a particular policy, the insurance company need not do anymore to fulfill its obligations under §1731 and 1734 during the life of that particular insurance policy.

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

Source of image:  Photo by Olia Danilvoich on

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.