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Accident not covered under insurance policy

May 25, 2012

A man who was involved in a car accident while riding in his friend’s vehicle lost his appeal in which he argued that his friend’s car was a temporary substitute for his own and he should be entitled to underinsured motorist coverage.

Mark Gasser and three friends scheduled a time to play golf, but on that day, the battery was dead in his pickup truck. His girlfriend was driving his other car, so Gasser asked friend Rex Kamman to pick him up. On their way to the golf course, they were involved in a collision.

Gasser’s cars were owned by his business, and he had them insured with Auto-Owners Insurance Co. His policy states that it applies to a car that “you do not own which is temporarily used as a substitute for your automobile. Your automobile must be out of use because of breakdown, repair, servicing, loss or destruction.”

Only once has the Court of Appeals addressed a car being a “temporary substitute” for insurance purposes, Deadwiler v. Chicago Motor Club Ins. Co., 603, N.E.29 1365 (Ind. Ct. App. 1992). Deadwiler addressed the “temporary substitute” issue for the first time and determined that a daughter’s car was not a “temporary substitute vehicle” covered under her mother’s policy. The daughter went to check on her sister after being asked by her mother to do so and was involved in an accident. The court held the daughter’s actions were characterized as a favor to her mother rather than as fulfillment of a prior contractual or legal obligation owed to her mother.

The court in Mark Gasser v. Lesa B. Downing, Auto-Owners Insurance Co. and Property Owners Insurance Co., No. 19A05-1108-PL-419, ruled Gasser’s ride to the golf course is similarly a “favor” by Kamman, so Auto-Owners was entitled to summary judgment.

 

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