Georgia Court Analyzes Insurance Policy Language, Finding that Test-Driving Plaintiffs Were Not Covered Under Dealership’s Policy

Last month, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a Georgia car accident case requiring the court to determine if the plaintiffs were covered under a policy underwritten by the defendant insurance company. The court ultimately determined that the plaintiffs were not among those named in the policy for whom underinsured/uninsured motorist (UIM) coverage was provided, and the plaintiffs’ argument that the policy was invalid was without merit. Thus, the court dismissed the plaintiffs’ case.The Facts

The defendant insurance company wrote a policy for a car dealership. The policy provided both liability and UIM coverage. However, the UIM coverage was only extended to “directors, officers, partners or owners of the named insured and family members who qualify as an insured.” In fact, the policy specifically stated that “any other person who qualifies as an
Insured” was not afforded UIM coverage.

The plaintiffs decided to test-drive a car from the dealership. While out on the test-drive, the plaintiffs were rear-ended by another motorist. The at-fault motorist had liability insurance coverage, but the policy limits were such that the plaintiffs were not fully compensated for their injuries, even after settling and obtaining the maximum benefit amount under that policy. Thus, the plaintiffs filed a claim with the dealership’s insurance policy, under the UIM coverage.

The insurance company, however, denied the plaintiffs’ claim, explaining that the plaintiffs were not among the class of those for whom UIM coverage was extended. The plaintiffs took issue with the language of the insurance policy, arguing that it was invalid because it did not comply with the law and was against public policy.

The Court’s Decision

The court held that the plaintiffs were not entitled to coverage under the dealership’s policy because the dealership had specifically rejected coverage for all those except the groups mentioned in the policy. The plaintiffs attempted to convince the court that the policy did not comply with Georgia’s law that requires all insurance policies to contain an option for the insured to obtain UIM benefits.

Specifically, the plaintiffs argued that the dealership should not have been permitted to obtain UIM benefits for a select class of individuals. Since the policy allowed the dealership to obtain the coverage, the plaintiffs argued that the policy as it pertained to UIM benefits was invalid. The court disagreed, noting that there is nothing in Georgia law that requires insurance companies to require “all or nothing” UIM coverage, and the insured is permitted to pick and choose which groups have UIM coverage.

Have You Been Injured in a Georgia Car Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The dedicated Georgia injury lawyers at McAleer Law have decades of collective experience representing victims and their families in a wide range of Georgia car accident cases, including those involving difficult insurance companies. To learn more, call 404-622-5337 to schedule a free consultation today.

See More Posts:

Georgia Court Discusses Plaintiff’s Potential Failure to Comply with Terms of Insurance Contract, Georgia Injury Attorney Blog, June 11, 2018.

Georgia Court Discusses Coverage Exceptions to Insurance Policies in Recent Car Accident Case, Georgia Injury Attorney Blog, March 27, 2018.

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