Regular Use Exclusion Challenged

/ 28.Apr, 2011
In Pennsylvania, the appellate courts have held the regular use exclusion in uninsured and underinsured motorist cases. That exclusion bars recovery of UM/UIM benefits where the injuries arise from the maintenance and use of a vehicle regularly used but not owned by the plaintiff. In Brink v. Erie, 940 A.2d 528 (Pa. Super. 2008), the Court upheld the exclusion in the case of a police officer occupying the vehicle made available to him for his use in the course and scope of his employment. The Supreme Court has agreed to address the issue in Williams v. GEICO, 986 A.2d 45 (Pa. 2009). In that matter, the following question was certified for appeal: Whether, under the MVFRL and our decision in Burstein v. Prudential Property & Casualty Insurance Co., 809 A.2d 204 (Pa. 2002), the “regular use” exclusion to underinsured motorist coverage in an automobile insurance policy is valid where the insured is a police officer, who sustained bodily injury in the course of performing his duties while driving a police vehicle, for which vehicle he could not have obtained underinsured motorist coverage. Oral argument in this matter was conducted before the Supreme Court on April 14, 2010. This case is of particular importance to the insurance industry. The regular use exclusion applies to all types of UM and UIM claims. Police officers, fireman, delivery persons, truck drivers, etc., are all potentially affected by this exclusion. Most insurers in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania now contain such an exclusion in UM and UIM coverage parts of auto policies. Claimants and insurers must be cognizant of the potential ramifications of the Supreme Court decision in this case.