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PA Superior Court Analyzes The "Regular Use" Exclusion

November 5, 2012

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<p style="text-align: left;" align="center">In <em>Rother v. Erie Insurance</em>, Patrick Rother was injured in a car accident.  At the time of the accident Rother was living with his mother but was driving his father’s car.  Two weeks before the accident, Rother’s father had given him permission the use the car to commute to work for the indefinite future.

After Rother recovered liability benefits from the other driver’s policy, he and his mother initiated an action seeking a declaration that Erie Insurance was obligated to provide underinsured motorist coverage under his mother’s policy.  Erie contended that coverage was excluded under the “regular use” exclusion in the policy.  The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Rother.  Erie appealed.

On appeal, the Superior Court first noted that, generally, policy exclusions should be narrowly construed.  Next the Court held that the duration of Rother’s use of the car was irrelevant in determining if the test for “regular use” had been met.  Further, the fact that Rother’s father had placed restrictions on the use of the car would not preclude there being a finding of “regular use.”  The Court held that the determining factor was there was no indication that Rother’s use of the car was on a temporary basis.  As such, the test for “regular use” had been met and there was no coverage under Erie’s policy.</p>
 Thanks to Colleen Hayes for her contribution to this post.

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