In the case of Owners Insurance Company v. Allstate Fire and Casualty Insurance Company and James M. Horne, Jr., Case Number 2D18-2309 (Fla. June 19, 2020), Florida’s Second DCA held that a policy providing an insured with bodily injury coverage must also provide uninsured motorist coverage.
Underlying Case Facts
In this case, Auto-Owners insured provided automobile insurance to Horne’s mother and stepfather. Horne resided in their home but he owned his own vehicle and insured it with another insurance company.
Auto-Owners claimed that their policy only provides coverage to “relatives who do not own a vehicle.”
However, as a resident relative, Horne would be covered under Auto-Owners’ bodily injury coverage while driving one of the listed vehicles. A typical Florida automobile policy provides coverage to all resident relatives living in the same household, unless coverage is specifically excluded. This is usually done by excluding a driver or person from coverage under the policy for some specific reason.
Horne appears to have been driving an insured vehicle.
Florida Automobile Insurance Policies Typically Cover All Resident Relatives
The problem with this case from Auto-Owners’ perspective is that Horne’s accident occurred while driving a vehicle listed on the policy. Auto-Owners may have been correct to exclude him from UM coverage while driving his own vehicle (assuming that the policy had an appropriate exclusion) but they were not correct to exclude him from UM coverage while driving one belonging to his mother or stepfather.
Below are some key takeaway quotes from the opinion:
- Under Florida law, if a motor vehicle liability insurance policy provides bodily injury liability coverage, then it must also provide UM coverage to those insured under the policy. See § 627.727(1), Fla. Stat.
- Where an insured is injured while occupying an owned vehicle that is not listed on the policy, the insured is ‘entitled to uninsured motorist coverage even if he would not have been entitled to liability coverage had the accident in question been his fault.’ GEICO Indem. Co. v. Perez, 260 So. 3d 342, 349 (Fla. 3d DCA 2018) (quoting Omar v. Allstate Ins. Co., 632 So. 2d 214, 215 (Fla. 5th DCA 1994)).
- Uninsured motorist protection does not inure to a particular motor vehicle, but instead protects the named insured or insured members of his family against bodily injury inflicted by the negligence of any uninsured motorist under whatever conditions, locations, or circumstances any of such insureds happen to be in at the time. Gov’t Emps. Ins. Co. v. Douglas, 654 So. 2d 118, 120 (Fla. 1995).
The lesson to be learned here is that you should always check all of the policies that might apply to your accident. I frequently encounter clients in my practice who are afraid to make an insurance claim on a family member’s insurance policy for fear of being dropped or rising premiums. However, not making a valid claim against an applicable insurance policy costs more in that you don’t get the benefit of coverage that you purchased.
Had there be more than one UM limit (i.e. if Horne had UM on his own car), then Horne may be entitled to either the higher limit of the two policies or stacking (if applicable).
Talk To A Car Accident Lawyer About Your Case
This case is an example of how having a lawyer on your side makes a big difference. By having an attorney advising you, you can take the right actions to get the benefits that you are entitled to under the insurance policies that have been purchased. An attorney will also help you with important documents, such the civil remedy notice of insurer violation, for UM cases.
If you or someone you know has been injured in a Florida car accident, you should call Russo Law for a free consultation. We offer free, no obligation, consultations to determine whether you have a case. If you have a case, then we accept your case on a contingency – no fees or costs unless we win. Call us today to schedule your free consultation with an injury attorney.