Superior Court Upholds Unlisted Resident Driver Exclusion

In Safe Auto Insurance v. Oriental- Guillermo, 2017 Pa. Super. 297 (September 18, 2017), the Pennsylvania Superior Court upheld an Unlisted Resident Driver Exclusion in an automobile policy issued by Safe Auto Insurance Company (“Safe Auto”) which  excluded  from coverage those individuals  who lived with the policyholder but were not related to the policyholder and who were not specifically listed on the policy.

The appeal arose from a Declaratory Judgment Action Safe Auto filed in Lehigh County.  The trial court granted Safe Auto’s Motion for Summary Judgment, holding that Safe Auto was not obligated to provide insurance coverage to Rachel Dixon, who was driving the Safe Auto policyholder’s car, was unrelated to the policy holder, and the policy holder did not list her as a driver on his automobile insurance policy.

The Superior Court first determined that the policy language was unambiguous. There was no dispute that the driver, Rachel Dixon, lived with the Safe Auto policy holder, was unrelated to him, and that he did not list her as a driver on his policy.

The claimant argued that the Unlisted Resident Driver Exclusion was against public policy and the Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law (MVRFL) requires the owner of a vehicle to ensure that drivers of his vehicle are insured.  However, the Court ruled that the MVFRL does to require the shifting of the burden to insurance companies to make sure a driver is insured and further held that statute places the burden on the vehicle owner. The Court noted that the Unlisted Resident Driver Exclusion is consistent with the Named Driver Exclusion  In both, the insured determines the drivers of the insured’s car for which the insured will purchase insurance.  The Superior Court determined that MVFRL did not shift the burden to insurance companies to anticipate the people who will be operating the insured’s vehicle and upheld the ruling of the lower court.

Please contact Jennifer Levan with any questions.

Jennifer L. LeVan

Office: Bethlehem
Phone: (610) 954-6873
Practice Areas: Commercial Litigation, First Party PIP / MPC, Fraud / SIU, General Liability, Premises Liability, Third Party, UM/UIM