ZK Result – Attorneys Erin Corcoran and Jeffrey Ramaley Obtain Summary Judgment in Insurance Coverage Dispute
(Somerset County, PA) (November 2020). Zimmer Kunz attorneys, Erin Corcoran and Jeffrey Ramaley, recently obtained Summary Judgment in favor of an auto insurance carrier arising out of a Declaratory Judgment Action regarding an insurance coverage dispute. In this case, the insurer issued a policy to an individual, naming him as both the policyholder and an excluded driver. The policyholder was then involved in a motor vehicle accident, and the injured party filed a declaratory judgment action against the insurer seeking indemnification of the judgment obtained against the policyholder.
The theory against the insurer was that the named driver exclusion election in the applicable insurance policy was unenforceable under 75 Pa. C.S.A. § 1718(c)(2), because the plain language of the policy indicated that the policyholder requested to exclude himself from coverage when he was not insured under another policy. However, the insurer argued that the exclusionary provision was enforceable under 75 Pa. C.S.A. § 1718(c)(1), because a written affidavit by the insurance agent who issued the policy indicated that the insurer excluded the policyholder from coverage due to a suspended license. The injured party argued that the written affidavit was barred by the parol evidence rule, but the insurer argued that the affidavit was admissible because the exclusionary provision was ambiguous.
The Court began its legal analysis by finding that the exclusionary provision in the policy was ambiguous, and that therefore the written affidavit was admissible. The Court further found that the exclusionary provision was enforceable under 75 Pa. C.S.A. § 1718(c)(1), because the written affidavit indicated that the insurer was responsible for excluding the policyholder from coverage due to a suspended license. Thus, summary judgment was granted in favor of the insurer, and it was held as a matter of law that the insurer did not owe defense or indemnification to the policyholder arising out of the accident.
Anyone wishing to obtain a copy of the Memorandum Opinion and Order can contact attorney Erin Corcoran at Corcoran@zklaw.com