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Insurer must provide underinsured coverage

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An insurance policy that doesn't provide uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage to all insureds is contrary to public policy based on Indiana statute, affirmed the Indiana Court of Appeals. Based on the statute, the insurance company is required to provide $500,000 in underinsured motorist coverage to a man injured while driving a company-provided motorcycle.

In Joseph Balagtas and Federated Mutual Insurance Co. v. Harry Joe Bishop, No. 79A02-0903-CV-239, Federated Mutual Insurance appealed the trial court order denying its motion for summary judgment and granting Harry Bishop's motion for summary judgment in his claim for underinsured motorist coverage. Bishop is an employee of Eagle Motors, who is insured through Federated. Eagle provided Bishop a demo motorcycle for business and personal use with full coverage insurance. While he was driving it during personal use, he was hit by Joseph Balagtas and injured. Bishop's damages exceeded Balagtas' policy limits so he sought payment under the UIM of Eagle's policy. Federated claimed he wasn't covered because Eagle elected to only have UM/UIM coverage for directors, officers, partners, or owners of the named insured and family members who qualify as insureds. Bishop didn't fit any of those titles.

The issue for the appellate court to decide was if Eagle could elect limits for UM/UIM coverage for some insureds and decline the same coverage for other insureds. Indiana Code Section 27-7-5-2 says an insurer is required to make available UM and UIM coverage in limits at least equal to a policy's bodily injury limits of liability. Federated argued that statute didn't apply to them because I.C. Section 27-7-5-1.5 states an insurer is not required to make available UM/UIM coverage in connection with the issuance of a commercial vehicle policy. The appellate court rejected that argument and held Federated intended to comply with I.C. Section 27-7-5-2 based on its policy language. In a footnote, Judge James Kirsch noted that I.C. Section 27-7-5-1.5 has been repealed effective Jan. 1, 2010.

Under Indiana Code Section 27-7-5-2(b), the insured may reject on behalf of all named insureds and other insureds either the UM or UIM coverage provided or both the UM and UIM coverage. The statute doesn't say that the named insured may reject coverage for some, but not all of the named insureds, so election or rejection of coverage must apply to everyone, wrote Judge Kirsch.

"Indiana Code section 27-7-5-2 is a mandatory coverage, full-recovery, remedial statute," he wrote. "Insurers operating in Indiana are required to set minimum standards of protection that the legislature has deemed acceptable. We will not approve any clause, exception, or exclusion that attempts to subvert or narrow the intent of the legislature. Any language in an insurance policy that dilutes statutory protections is contrary to public policy."

 

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  1. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  2. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  3. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

  4. Well, I agree with you that the people need to wake up and see what our judges and politicians have done to our rights and freedoms. This DNA loophole in the statute of limitations is clearly unconstitutional. Why should dna evidence be treated different than video tape evidence for example. So if you commit a crime and they catch you on tape or if you confess or leave prints behind: they only have five years to bring their case. However, if dna identifies someone they can still bring a case even fifty-years later. where is the common sense and reason. Members of congress are corrupt fools. They should all be kicked out of office and replaced by people who respect the constitution.

  5. If the AG could pick and choose which state statutes he defended from Constitutional challenge, wouldn't that make him more powerful than the Guv and General Assembly? In other words, the AG should have no choice in defending laws. He should defend all of them. If its a bad law, blame the General Assembly who presumably passed it with a majority (not the government lawyer). Also, why has there been no write up on the actual legislators who passed the law defining marriage? For all the fuss Democrats have made, it would be interesting to know if some Democrats voted in favor of it (or if some Republican's voted against it). Have a nice day.

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