Florida Court Discusses Resident-Relative Exclusion in Recent Car Accident Case

Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Florida car accident case, centered around an insurance dispute. Technically, the case was between two insurance companies, however, the issue before the court is relevant to accident victims. Specifically, the case required the court determine if the accident victim was covered under his parents’ underinsured/uninsured motorist (UIM) protection policy.

According to the court’s opinion, a young man was injured in a Florida car accident. At the time of the crash, the man lived with his mother and step-father, who had an insurance policy with Owners Insurance Company. The Owners policy provided coverage to resident relatives who did not own their own automobile.

Another insurance company, Allstate, sought a declaratory judgment clarifying that the young man was covered under the Owners policy. Allstate hoped to establish that Owners provided coverage so that an unrelated Allstate policy would not be involved in the claim. The trial court agreed with Allstate, holding that the young man was covered under his parents’ policy.

Owners filed an appeal, arguing that its policy did not extend coverage to the young man. Specifically, the insurance company argued that because the policy did not provide coverage to the young man for bodily injury liability, it would similarly not provide UIM coverage.

The appellate court agreed with Owners, reversing the lower court’s judgment to the contrary. The court began by noting that, under Florida law “if a motor vehicle insurance policy provides liability coverage to a resident relative, then it must also extend the same level of UIM coverage.” However, when a policy does not cover a person for liability coverage, then there is no requirement that the policy extends UIM benefits to that person. The court went on to note that an insurance company is able to write a policy without UIM benefits, but it must obtain a waiver from the insured.

Here, the court agreed with Allstate that there was not a waiver of UIM coverage. However, the court then noted that coverage because the Owners policy contained an exclusion for resident relatives who owned their own vehicle. Thus, bodily injury coverage did not apply to those relatives of the insured who lived with the insured and owned their own vehicle. Because the court determined that bodily injury liability coverage was not extended to the young man, Owners was not required to obtain a written waiver of UIM coverage from the policyholder.

Have You Been Injured in a Florida Car Accident?

If you or someone you love has recently been injured in a Florida car accident, contact the dedicated injury lawyers at the Law Offices of Robert Dixon. At our South Florida personal injury law firm, we represent clients who have been injured in all types of motor vehicle accidents, including cases in which a difficult insurance company denies coverage. We are skilled at negotiating with insurance companies and will not hesitate to take a case to trial if an insurance company is being unreasonable. To learn more, call 877-499-4878 to schedule a free consultation today.

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