Ambiguous Exclusion Language Results in UIM Recovery

Posted on: July 10th, 2012       Attorney Thomas Newell

A 2008 opinion of the PA Superior Court increased the options for those making a Pennsylvania underinsured motorist (UIM) claim.  A young girl was injured in a car crash while a passenger in her mother’s automobile.  The personal injury victim received the full policy limit from her mother’s insurance company.

Her Pennsylvania underinsured motorist lawyer filed a PA UIM claim against her father’s insurance company.  Erie denied the claim based on the policy’s regularly used non-owned vehicle exclusion.  The trial judge agreed with Erie and dismissed the Pennsylvania underinsured motorist claim.

The PA Superior Court accepted the legal theories of the Pennsylvania underinsured motorist attorney and overturned the lower court’s decision.  The Appeals Court ruled that the word “using” was ambiguous.  If Erie meant to include all people in the car, it should have used the word “occupying.”  Since it didn’t, the passenger was able to make a Pennsylvania underinsured motorist claim.  Erie v. Loury, 941 A.2d 1270 (Pa. Super. 2008)