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Auto Insurance | 2/01/2019

Richard Freeburn Talks Car Insurance Law on Good Day PA

Richard Freeburn of Freeburn Law visited ABC 27’s Good Day PA to discuss a recent ruling by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that prohibits insurance companies from wrongfully denying benefits their policy holders deserve. 

The Background

Pennsylvania only requires people to carry $15,000.00 in auto liability limits.  Therefore, it is important to protect yourself against people who don’t have enough liability insurance to pay all of your damages from an accident.  You can protect yourself by purchasing Underinsured Motorists, (“UIM”), coverage under your own policy.  This coverage pays your damages if the person who caused your injuries is underinsured.

By law, your TOTAL limit of UIM coverage is the limit for each car, in every policy under which you are an insured, added together.  This adding of limits is the way the law works for UIM coverage, and is called “stacking.”  You can waive stacking, however, by signing a specific waiver form set forth in the law.

For years, insurance carriers have gotten around UIM stacking without a signed waiver by putting vehicles on a separate insurance policies and burying an EXCLUSION in the policy that says you can only get UIM benefits for the vehicle listed on that policy.  The insurance carriers called this the “Household Vehicle Exclusion.”.

In Gallagher v. GEICO, (January 23, 2019), the Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down the Household Vehicle Exclusion.  In this case, Brian Gallagher suffered serious injuries when a pickup truck ran a stop sign and hit the motorcycle he was riding.   Mr. Gallagher insured his motorcycle and 2 cars with GEICO.  Mr. Gallagher selected, and paid for stacked UIM coverage for all of his vehicles, $50,000 for his motorcycle, and $100,000 for each of his cars.  Therefore, Mr. Gallagher’s total limit of UIM coverage should have been his limits for each of his vehicles “stacked,” or added together - $250,000.

However, GEICO had put Mr. Gallagher’s motorcycle on a separate insurance policy and inserted the “Household Vehicle Exclusion.”  Since Mr. Gallagher’s automobiles were not listed on his motorcycle policy, GEICO argued that he was only entitled to the $50,000 UIM limit under his motorcycle policy, and not the $250,000 stacked UIM limit that he had requested and paid for under all of his policies.

However, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that GEICO violated the law by denying Mr. Gallagher stacked UIM limits without a signed stacking waiver.  This decision strikes down the Household Vehicle Exclusion contained in all auto policies in Pennsylvania.  It applies to all insurance Carriers, not just GEICO, and cars as well as motorcycles.

Protect Yourself

Profits come first for insurance companies, not people.  Therefore, Protect Yourself!  Call the experienced car accident attorneys at Freeburn Law for a FREE consultation.   Call now:

(717) 777-7777 or (570) 777-7777.

There is no fee unless we recover money for you, and we will meet you at your home or in the hospital for FREE!


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