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Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
April 10, 2018, Argued; January 23, 2019, Decided
No. 35 WAP 2017
[**132] [*603] JUSTICE BAER
This appeal requires the Court to determine whether a "household vehicle exclusion" contained in a motor vehicle insurance policy violates Section 1738 of the Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law ("MVFRL"), 75 Pa.C.S. § 1738, because the exclusion impermissibly acts as a de facto waiver of stacked uninsured and underinsured motorist ("UM" and "UIM," respectively) coverages.1 We hold that the household vehicle exclusion violates the MVFRL. Accordingly, we vacate the Superior Court's judgment, reverse the trial court's order granting summary judgment in favor of Appellee GEICO Indemnity Company ("GEICO"), and remand to the trial court for further proceedings.
The facts underlying this appeal are undisputed. On the morning of August 22, 2012, Appellant Brian Gallagher ("Gallagher") was operating his motorcycle when William [*604] Stouffer ("Stouffer") [***2] failed to stop his pickup truck at a stop sign. Stouffer's truck collided with Gallagher's motorcycle, causing Gallagher to suffer severe injuries.
At the time of the accident, Gallagher had two insurance policies; notably, he [**133] purchased both of the policies from GEICO. One policy, which included $50,000 of UIM coverage, insured only Gallagher's motorcycle ("Motorcycle Policy"). The second policy insured Gallagher's two automobiles and provided for $100,000 of UIM coverage for each vehicle ("Automobile Policy"). Gallagher opted and paid for stacked UM and UIM coverage when purchasing both policies.2
Stouffer was insured by Progressive Insurance Company ("Progressive"), and Gallagher eventually settled his claim against Stouffer and Progressive. However, Stouffer's insurance coverage was insufficient to compensate Gallagher in full. Consequently, Gallagher filed claims with GEICO seeking stacked UIM benefits under both of his GEICO policies.
While GEICO paid Gallagher the $50,000 policy limits of UIM coverage available under the Motorcycle Policy, it denied his claim for stacked UIM benefits under the Automobile Policy. GEICO based its decision on a household vehicle exclusion found in an [***3] amendment to the Automobile Policy. The exclusion states as follows: "This coverage does not apply to bodily injury while occupying or from being struck by a vehicle owned or leased by you or a relative that is not insured for Underinsured Motorists Coverage under this policy." GEICO's Motion for Summary Judgment, 4/2/2015, Exhibit D, at Automobile Policy Amendment (UIM Coverage/Pennsylvania/Stacked). Because Gallagher suffered bodily injury while occupying his motorcycle, which was not insured under the Automobile Policy, GEICO took the position that the household vehicle exclusion precluded Gallagher from receiving stacked UIM coverage pursuant to that policy.
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650 Pa. 600 *; 201 A.3d 131 **; 2019 Pa. LEXIS 345 ***; 2019 WL 290122
BRIAN GALLAGHER, Appellant v. GEICO INDEMNITY COMPANY, Appellee
Prior History: [***1] Appeal from the Order of the Superior Court entered January 27, 2017 at No. 352 WDA 2016, affirming the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County entered February 18, 2016 at No. 5561 of 2014.
Gallagher v. GEICO Indem. Co., 160 A.3d 270, 2017 Pa. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 328 (Jan. 27, 2017)
coverage, insured, stacked, household, motorcycle, policies, automobile policy, premiums, waive, summary judgment motion, benefits, insurance policy, unenforceable, limits, underinsured motorist, de facto, underinsured, occupying, violates, summary judgment, waiver form, Underwriters, unambiguous, provisions, uninsured, mandates, default
Insurance Law, Coverage, Underinsured Motorists, Stacking Provisions, Uninsured Motorists, Governments, Courts, Judicial Precedent, Civil Procedure, Appeals, En Banc Determinations, Judgments, Summary Judgment, Entitlement as Matter of Law, Entitlement as Matter of Law, Appropriateness, Summary Judgment Review, Standards of Review, Legislation, Interpretation, Policy Interpretation, Ambiguous Terms, Unambiguous Terms, Stacking Provisions, Antistacking Clauses, Stacking Waivers, Rejection of Coverage, Claim, Contract & Practice Issues, Premiums, Motor Vehicle Insurance, Family Members, Exclusions, Household Members