Husband’s Signature on UIM Rejection Form Negates Wife’s UIM Claim

Posted on: July 10th, 2012       Attorney Thomas Newell

A  2009 opinion of the PA Superior Court reversed a trial court’s favorable decision for a Pennsylvania underinsured motorist claim victim.  A husband and wife purchased car insurance from Donegal Insurance Company which included underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage.  After adding a teenager to their policy, they looked for ways to reduce their premium.  The husband told the insurance agent to eliminate UIM coverage.  He signed the underinsured motorist rejection form for both him and his wife.

The wife was then involved in a car accident in which she suffered significant injuries.  After obtaining the negligent defendant’s policy limit, she made an underinsured motorist claim vs. Donegal.  Her Pennsylvania underinsured motorist attorney claimed that she was entitled to UIM benefits because she didn’t sign the UIM rejection form.  The Westmoreland County Trial Judge agreed and ordered Donegal to provide underinsured motorist benefits.

Donegal appealed and the PA Superior Court overruled the Trial Court.  Once the insurance company received a PA underinsured motorist coverage rejection form bearing both signatures, the burden of proof shifted to the wife.  She had to prove that not only was her signature a forgery, but that her husband placed it there without her knowledge and consent.  Since she did not present evidence proving that she did not willingly waive underinsured motorist coverage, her UIM claim was denied.  Toth v. Donegal Companies, 964 A.2d 413 (Pa. Super. 2009)