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New Jersey Court Analyzes Coverage Dispute Regarding Underinsured Motorist Insurance (NJ)

November 5, 2020

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<p style="text-align: justify;">On October 20, 2020, the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division affirmed the trial court’s granting of summary judgment in favor of Penn National Insurance in <em><a href="https://www.wcmlaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Singh-v.-Chestnut.pdf">Singh v. Chestnut.</a> </em>The court reaffirmed the trial court’s decision that the plain language of Penn National’s Insurance Contract did not offer coverage to Singh.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">On October 26, 2016, Satnam Singh was injured while working as an attendant at a gas station. The driver of the vehicle stopped to get gas and drove away from the gas pump while the nozzle and hose were still attached to his vehicle. The nozzle then struck Singh in the face, and Singh sustained injuries. Singh filed a complaint against the driver and New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Company, who provided workers compensation coverage to Singh’s employer, APCO Petroleum Corporation. Plaintiff then filed an amended complaint against Penn National asserting claims for underinsured motorist coverage. Penn National’s policy was a commercial automobile insurance policy issued to APCO.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Penn National filed a motion for summary judgment which was granted. The Court determined Singh was not covered under the underinsured motorist coverage under Penn National’s policy.  Singh appealed.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">When analyzing Penn National’s policy and the definitions noted herein, the Court held Singh was not insured under Penn National’s policy, as he was not identified on the declarations page and did not occupy an automobile covered under the policy at the time of his injury. Additionally, the Court considered that underinsured motorist coverage will be applied when the claimant shows a substantial nexus between the insured vehicle and the injury sustained. The Court held Singh did not show the needed substantial nexus and was therefore not entitled to underinsured motorist coverage.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">This case furthers the importance of understanding the plain language of the insurance policy when determining coverage.</p>
Thanks to Madeline Troutman for her contribution to this post. Any questions, please contact <a href="mailto:gcoats@wcmlaw.com">Georgia Coats</a>.

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