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UIM Rejection Form Need Not be Verbatim Reproduction of Statutory Form.

February 22nd, 2017

In Ford v. American States Insurance Company, 154 A.3d 237 (Pa. Supreme Court, February 22, 2017), the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that a rejection form for underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage was valid even though it was not a verbatim reproduction of the statutory form.

Section 1731 of the Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law provides a form that insurers must use when an insured wishes to reject underinsured motorist coverage.  Section 1731 (c.1) provides that if the insurer fails to specifically comply with the statutory form the rejection is void.

The UIM rejection form that American States used deviated from the statutory form in a few minor respects.  It referenced “motorists” instead of “motorist” in the title line, and inserted the word “ motorists” between “Underinsured” and “coverage” in the second sentence.  Thus the insured argued that the form failed to specifically comply with the statutory form, and therefore the UIM rejection was void.

However, the Court found that the deviations in the form were inconsequential and de minimis, and therefore held that the American States form specifically complied with the statutory form.  Opinion by Justice Baer, joined by Chief Justice Saylor and Justices Dougherty, Wecht and Mundy.  Justice Donohue filed a dissenting opinion in which Justice Todd joined.

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