The Benefit Of The Auto Insurance Bargain (PA)
On July 6, 2022, in an appeal from the Western District of Pennsylvania, the Third Circuit upheld the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor auto insurer State Farm’s motion for summary judgment. The case, Tina Bubonovich v. State Farm Mutual Auto Ins. Co., was initiated by the plaintiff when, after recovering the available limits of the other driver’s liability coverage, as well as her own underinsured motorist coverage (“UIM”), she was precluded from stacking her son’s UIM coverage. Hence, the question before the court was whether the plaintiff can stack her son’s UIM policy on top of her own recovery when stacking was selected in one policy (the plaintiff’s) but waived in the other (the son’s).
The relevant facts are as follows: (1) plaintiff was driving her car at the time of the accident; (2) plaintiff was residing with her son at the time of the accident; (3) plaintiff’s son is the named insured under his own State Farm policy; (4) the son’s policy does not include the plaintiff’s vehicle as an insured vehicle; and (5) the plaintiff’s son executed a non-stacking waiver as to his policy.
The Third Circuit rearticulated the holding in Craley v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., 895 A.2d 530 (Pa. 2006), which stated it is the concerned policy and its exclusions that are applicable to the legal issues, nothing else. Accordingly, although the plaintiff in Bubonovich argued that she elected stacking and should receive the benefit of that bargain, the Third Circuit acknowledged the bargain did not include the ability to draw on other policies of insurance under which the named insured waived stacking.
Thanks to Richard Dunne for his contribution to this article. Should you have any questions, please contact Matthew Care.