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Parents cannot each recover under policy's underinsured motorist provisions

February 29, 2012

The parents of a teenager killed in a crash during a drag race cannot recover funds in their individual capacities under their automobile insurance underinsured motorist provisions, the Indiana Court of Appeals concluded.

In Monte Hanna and Kim Hanna v. Indiana Farmers Mutual Insurance Company, No. 18A04-1106-PL-305, parents Monte and Kim Hanna received $50,000 from the insurer of one of the driver’s involved and $250,000 from the insurer of the driver of the vehicle Casey Hanna was riding in.

The Hannas also sought to recover the $250,000 per person limit under their UIM endorsement, which would be adjusted based on the amount they received from the drivers’ insurers. They claimed since neither of the parents received the “per person” limit of the UIM coverage in the amount of $250,000, then the vehicles involved in the accidents should be considered underinsured.

The trial court granted summary judgment for Indiana Farmers Mutual Insurance, finding the Hannas have only one, joint derivative claim and are subject to the $250,000 per person limit of their Indiana Farmers’ policy. They received $300,000 from the drivers, so they are not underinsureds.

The COA agreed after examining the policy language and the Child Wrongful Death Act, finding the two are precluded from asserting a claim on their own or under common law.  

“Pursuant to the CWDA, it is apparent that the parents of a minor child can maintain a single, joint claim for the death of their minor child. In other words, nothing in the statute permits each parent to maintain a separate wrongful death claim in his or her own right,” wrote Judge John Baker.


 

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