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Florida Woman Not Limited by Father’s Waiver of Higher Limit UM Coverage – Chase v. Horace Mann Insurance Company

LawPurchasing automobile accident insurance can be complicated, especially for drivers who may not be familiar with the terminology that insurers use to describe the various types of coverage available or the laws that apply to the insurance industry. For instance, drivers may not realize that, absent an intentional waiver of rights, an insurance company must provide the same amount of “uninsured motorist” coverage as the amount of “bodily injury liability” that the insured purchases.

In the case of Chase v. Horace Mann Insurance Company, the Florida Supreme Court addressed the issue of whether removing the sole named insured from an auto insurance policy and then listing a separate individual as the named insured on that policy for the first time created a new policy for purposes of Fla. Stat. sect. 627.727.

Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a young woman who had been injured in a car accident in which her father had been killed. The car in which they were riding at the time of the accident was insured under a policy from the defendant insurance company that was originally issued to her father in 2001 on a different automobile. At the time that the father purchased the policy, the bodily injury liability limits were $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident, but he signed a form on which he selected reduced uninsured motorist limits of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. The daughter was listed as a driver on the original policy but was not a named insured. In 2004, the father was removed as sole named insured on the policy, and the daughter was named as the insured. Although several other changes were made over the years, the daughter never signed anything waiving her rights to higher UM coverage.

Proceedings in the Trial Court and Intermediate Appellate Court

After the accident in which the woman was injured and the father was killed, a dispute arose concerning the amount of UM coverage that was available under the policy. The trial court ruled that both the woman and the father’s estate were entitled to $100,000 under the policy. On intermediate appeal, the First District Court of Appeal reversed all of the trial court findings, except that it affirmed the trial court’s finding that the woman was entitled to stacked coverage.

The Florida Supreme Court’s Opinion

On further appeal to the state supreme court, the court quashed the intermediate appellate court’s decision and approved the trial court’s decision. According to the court, the daughter was not subject to the father’s waiver because she never signed a waiver of higher UM coverage.

To Speak with an Experienced South Florida Injury Lawyer

The attorneys at Cohn & Smith, P.A. have many years of combined experience helping injured people and their families pursue the financial compensation that they deserve following a serious automobile accident. To schedule an appointment with a member of our legal team, call (954) 431-8100 or use the contact form on this website. You will need to bring any documentation that you have concerning your accident or injuries to your appointment, including the accident report, medical bills, medical records, photographs, or other information pertinent to your claim. We serve clients throughout the Fort Lauderdale area, including Aventura, Pompano Beach, and Weston.

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