Ambiguous Insurance Policy Equals More UIM Benefits

Posted on: July 10th, 2012       Attorney Thomas Newell

A November 2009 legal opinion of Judge Judith Olson of the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas granted an underinsured motorist’s Motion for Summary Judgment and ordered Progressive Northern Insurance Company to provide underinsured motorist claim coverage to the car crash victim.  The woman was a passenger in a car which was involved in a collision.  She sustained extensive injuries resulting in the payment of the Defendant’s insurance policy limit, as well as the UIM limit under her father’s auto policy.

The Pennsylvania underinsured motorist then made a claim for UIM benefits under her grandfather’s car insurance coverage.  Progressive argued against the UIM claim since the injury victim didn’t own the grandfather’s car.  She did not live with him at the time of the crash and she did not qualify as an “insured person” under the auto contract.

In ruling in favor of the UIM claimant, the Allegheny County Trial Judge noted that she was specifically listed on the declaration sheet under the heading “drivers and household residents.”  Progressive admitted that they increased the insurance premiums when she was added to the policy.  Adding to the confusion was the fact that the terms “named insured” and “driver” were not defined in the insurance contract.  As a result of the ambiguities created by Progressive, all questions raised in the underinsured motorist claim were answered in the UIM victim’s favor.  Progressive Northern Insurance Company v. Lorini, C.P. Allegheny County G.D. No. 08-021545 (Nov. 23, 2009 J. Olson)