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Insurer Wins Summary Judgment After Waiver Of Inter-Policy Stacking In Purchase Of The Policy (PA)

February 11, 2022

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<p style="text-align: justify;">In a case from the Western District of PA, <em><a href="">Miale v. Nationwide Insurance Company of America</a>,</em> the court granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss against the plaintiff who brought a breach of contract claim (including bad faith) after they waived inter-policy stacking and their policy only covered one vehicle.  The plaintiff the wife of a decedent who file a suit for breach of contract and bad faith against the insurer after plaintiff’s husband was killed in a motorcycle accident .  The widow relied on her Nationwide RV policy which she argued covered both an RV and her husband’s motorcycle. However, the decedent had signed a waiver provision in exchange for reduced insurance premium.  Plaintiff argued the RV policy stacking waiver applied only to intra-policy stacking and did not apply to inter-policy stacking.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The court relied on Section 1738 of Pennsylvania’s Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility in its ruling refusing to accept policyholder’s argument. That section provides for stacking of uninsured and underinsured benefits in motor vehicle insurance policies, however the court found that the decedent knowingly and voluntarily rejected inter-policy stacking when he signed the valid waiver to receive reduced premium.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">This case is important in reiteration that the execution of a stacking waiver form for RV policy that covered only one vehicle meant that the policyholder could only have understood they were executing an inter-policy stacking form, even though the waiver form language included language from the statutory provision governing intra-policy stacking.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Thanks to Kevin Riley for his contribution to this article. Should you have any questions, please contact <a href="">Tom Bracken</a>.</p>

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