Florida Federal Court Decision Discusses Insurer’s Attempt To Avoid Extending Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage

Earlier this year, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida issued a decision in the case of Arnold v. Wausau Underwriters Insurance Company, discussing a circumstance under which an insurance company attempted to avoid extending uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage based upon some dubious paperwork. Our Miami car accident lawyers have extensive knowledge on this topic.

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In the Arnold case, the plaintiff, Timothy Arnold filed a claim with Wausau Underwriters Insurance Company, for uninsured motorist coverage after Arnold was involved in a car accident while working for his employer, RJA. At the time of the accident, RJA held an insurance policy with Wausau, however, a dispute arose as to the terms of that policy.

Specifically, Arnold claimed that the policy provided $1 million in uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.  Wausau, on the other hand, contended that RJA had agreed to modify the policy two months after it was executed, and executed a form declining all Florida uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Based on the alleged modification, Wausau denied Arnold uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage for the accident.

Arnold sued Wausau in federal court, alleging that Wausau had breached its contract with RJA by failing to extend coverage for Arnold’s accident. Both Arnold and Wausau moved the District Court to grant judgment in their favor prior to trial.  The Court denied both parties’ motions and ordered the case proceed to trial.

In rejecting both Arnold and Wausau’s claims, the District Court noted that the form allegedly executed by RJA declining uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage paperwork wasn’t signed or dated, and the policy wasn’t endorsed until six months after the accident. Therefore, the Court could not conclude, with any certainty, whether RJA had actually rejected the additional uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.

The Court went on to state that, under Section 627.727(1) of the Florida Statutes, an insurer must provide uninsured motor vehicle coverage unless the insured rejects such coverage in writing. The Court opined, “The facts that the rejection form was neither signed nor dated, that Wausau did not endorse the Policy until after the accident, and did not refund the premiums until after this litigation ensued create a genuine issue of material fact as to whether a knowing or informed rejection of uninsured motorists coverage occurred, and, if it did, as to when the rejection took place.”

Unfortunately, there are a number of ways in which insurance companies attempt to avoid extending coverage to their insured. If you or someone you know has been injured in a motor accident, you may need legal representation to protect your right to compensation. It is imperative that it your claim be evaluated by an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible after the accident to preserve your right to compensation.

Call a Miami Car Accident Attorney Today

The Miami personal injury attorneys at Gerson & Schwartz, P.A. have extensive experience representing individuals who have been injured in car accidents and have to deal with insurance companies. If you or someone you know has been injured by the negligence of another, contact the Miami car accident attorneys of Gerson & Schwartz, P.A today.
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