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Insurer Not Liable for Supplemental Spouse Liability (NY)

June 23, 2023

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<p style="text-align: justify;">In New York, the Insurance Law requires motor vehicle insurers to notify policyholders about the availability of Supplemental Spouse Liability (SSL) coverage. In <em><a href="https://www.wcmlaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/06/Levy.pdf">Levy</a> v. New York Central Mutual Fire Insurance Company</em>, the Westchester County Supreme Court addressed whether New York Central had notified the plaintiff about the availability of SSL insurance. The plaintiff, driving his car, accidentally struck his wife in a driveway. The plaintiff’s wife filed a claim against the plaintiff to New York Central, alleging she was injured due to the plaintiff’s negligence. New York Central informed the plaintiff’s wife her claim would not be considered as there was no SSL coverage. The plaintiff filed two causes of action: one alleging that New York Central failed to provide notice and the other alleging that New York Central was liable for breach of contract by not providing coverage to the plaintiff.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The plaintiff claimed that the SLL notice failed to comply with the notification requirements. The Court stated “As set forth above, the SLL notice was partially bolded, alerting plaintiff of an important notice. There is no requirement for the entire page to be bolded. Although the SLL notice was not page 1 of the 89-page document, it was page 1 of one of the various notices in the insurance packet. A look at the insurance policy indicates that every new section of the policy starts with page 1 and continues for however many pages address that topic. This does not conflict with 11 NYCRR § 60-1.6 (b) (3), which provides flexibility for the term premium notice. In addition, while not set forth in the decision, the sample notification provision, provided under 11 NYCRR § 60-1.6(b)(5) is identical to what New York Central provided to plaintiff in the policy. Even if it was not identical or did not contain the bolded and all capital title of Supplemental Spousal Liability Coverage, the regulation itself states that an equivalent may be used.”</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">New York Central established that it complied with the SSL notification requirements. This ruling serves as a reminder of the importance of thoroughly reading insurance policies and their coverage.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Thanks to Seamus Rooney for his contribution to this post. Please contact <a href="Haquino@wcmlaw.com">Heather Aquino</a> with any questions.</p>

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