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Pennsylvania Court Applies Regular Use Exclusion (PA)

February 7, 2020

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<p style="text-align: justify;">It's remarkable how often even the clearest of insurance policy language is placed before the court.  But it's also satisfying when a court applies a policy exclusion as worded and as intended.  In one recent decision, <em><a href="https://www.wcmlaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Eckert-v.-Unitrin-Auto-Home-Ins.-Co..pdf">Eckert v. Unitrin Auto Home Ins. Co.</a> </em>the Pennsylvania Superior Court did just that.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">In <em>Eckert, </em>the plaintiff, acting in the scope of her employment, was driving a school bus and was involved in an accident with an uninsured driver.  After the accident, she sought UIM coverage by filing a claim with her automobile insurance carrier.  However, the insurer denied coverage based on the policy's regular use exclusion, which barred coverage for "bodily injury...sustained...by you while occupying...any motor vehicle you own or any motor vehicle which is furnished or available for your regular use."</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">In her declaratory judgment action, the plaintiff argued that the exclusion did not apply to her situation because she drove several buses in the employer's fleet, her employer precluded her personal use of school buses, and that she only drove a bus for 5-6 hours per day.  But the court disagreed, and held that the exclusion applied.  In doing so, the court, relying on precedent, reasoned that at the time of the accident, she was driving a school bus about 80 percent of the time and that she regular access to all school buses in her employer's fleet.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Courts are unpredictable, even when interpreting policy language that is clear on its face.  But <em>Eckert</em> should provide comfort to insurers because it is another example of a court honoring the intent of a policy exclusion.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;"><span>Thanks to Garrett Gittler for his contribution to this post.  Please email <a href="mailto:mgauvin@wcmlaw.com">Mike Gauvin </a></span><span>with any questions.</span></p>

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