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Bus driver barred from underinsured motorist benefits

According to some, the most common cause for a workplace injury is a motor vehicle accident. Many people drive vehicles for work in Pennsylvania and in one case, a man was denied the insurance benefits for an underinsured motorist under his personal coverage while he was driving a bus for the Berks Area Reading Transit Authority.

The bus driver was involved in an accident in October 2005. After attempting to implement his underinsured motorist benefits for the crash, he was denied and believes that this should not have been the case. His insurer said that he was not covered by his underinsured motorist benefits because of a regular-use exclusion. According to the bus driver, he had been with his insurance company-Erie Insurance Exchange-since 2001 and no regular-use exclusion existed then.

The insurer said that he received notice of the exclusion in April 2004 when an automated system sent out a notification of the change in his policy with his billing renewal notice. The bus driver testified during his case that he does not remember receiving such a notice. This exclusion does not allow for the insured individual to be covered if an accident occurs in a vehicle that they regularly use but is not insured under her or his personal policy.

The decision to disallow the man's coverage through the regular-use exclusion was passed down by a three-judge panel of the Superior Court. Another case was relied on for the decision-a similar suit between a Pennsylvania state trooper and his insurer, GEICO. This case was heard by the state Supreme Court in 2011, as the justices found that the state trooper could not collect underinsured motorist benefits from his personal policy for an accident in a police cruiser that occurred while he was on the job.

The 2011 decision reportedly relied heavily on a case that was determined in 2002, one of very similar circumstance to both.

Source: Legal Examiner, "Injured Pennsylvania Bus Driver Cannot Collect UIM Insurance Benefits From Personal Policy," Scott Cooper, Oct. 2, 2012

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