In September of 2013, the Supreme Court of Kentucky heard a case involving a Kentucky Car Accident with underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage at issue. The opinion is an unpublished opinion and should not be published. See Kentucky Statute RCP Rule 76.28(4) before citing. (See State Farm Mutual Automobile Ins. Co. v. Hodgkiss-Warrick, 2013 WL 5406623 (2013)). In this Lexington car accident case, the plaintiff was a Pennsylvania resident. She was in a car driven by her daughter, also a Pennsylvania resident. The accident occurred near Mt. Vernon, Kentucky. As a result of the Kentucky car accident, the plaintiff made a claim against her own insurance carrier, the defendant in this case, for underinsured motorist coverage pursuant to her policy issued in Pennsylvania that covered a car that was registered, garaged and used exclusively in Pennsylvania.
In Kentucky, the choice of law the court used was that of Pennsylvania. This was correct. The trial court though did not give the plaintiff the UIM because the policy did not allow for coverage when a resident relative was involved in the accident and that car was underinsured. Id. But, the appellate court reversed, citing to public policy and that in Kentucky, Kentucky law would prohibit enforcement of a policy provision that disallows UIM coverage when the insured is injured in a vehicle owned or regularly used by a relative with whom the insured resides. Id.
The car insurance for the vehicle that the plaintiff was in tendered the policy. But that was not enough to cover the plaintiff’s injuries. So she sought coverage under her UIM and the additional $50,000 that she had. But, the UIM denied both claims based on the language of the policy.
This court has determined that 1) the Pennsylvania law applies to the insurance coverage dispute and 2) contrary to the appellate panels’ surmise about Kentucky public policy, there is no prohibition on the type of UIM exclusion at issue here and thus the UIM coverage was disallowed.
The Kentucky car accident plaintiff entered into an auto insurance contract in Pennsylvania that makes reference to specific Pennsylvania law. So, Pennsylvania law should control. Id. The injured car accident plaintiff tries to argue that Kentucky’s public policy, which disfavors this type of policy exclusion precluding her recovery of UIM benefits, should apply. But, this court could not find any specific provision of the Motor Vehicle Reparations Act (MVRA) that forbids the sort of exclusion from underinsured motor vehicle coverage at issue here. Id. The MVRA mandates minimum liability coverage but unequivocally provides that underinsured motorist coverage is optional. Id.
This Supreme Court of Kentucky held that Kentucky’s general choice of law rule applied and under it, Pennsylvania law clearly had precedence. Id. It cited to cases that held that “Upholding against public policy challenge a resident relative’s vehicle exclusion from UIM coverage.” (cites omitted).
If you have been the subject of a Kentucky Car Accident case, please call and speak to a Kentucky Car Accident lawyer at the Law Offices of Andrew Alitowski, P.A. at 888-ASK-ANDREW (888-275-2637) or contact us. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
If you are injured…Ask Andrew!!!