ZK Result – Attorneys Dara DeCourcy, Aaron Weiss, and Jeffrey Ramaley Obtain Summary Judgment in Insurance Coverage Dispute
(Westmoreland County, PA) (January 2020). Zimmer Kunz attorneys Dara DeCourcy, Aaron Weiss, and Jeffrey Ramaley recently obtained Summary Judgment in favor of an auto insurance carrier arising out of a coverage dispute for Underinsured Motorist (UIM) Coverage.
The insured was involved in an automobile accident on November 8, 2014. Prior to that time he had purchased a motorcycle insurance policy from the insurer, but his other vehicle (the one he was driving during the accident) was insured by a different insurer. With regard to the policy at issue, the insured signed the waiver of UIM stacking in accordance with Section 1738 of the Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law (MVFRL). Accordingly the insurer denied coverage. Then, over four years later, following the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision in Gallagher v. GEICO Indemnity Company, 201 A3d 131 (Pa. 2019) from earlier this year, the insured’s family filed suit seeking UIM coverage.
After briefing and oral arguments, Judge Harry F. Smail, Jr. authored an Opinion and Order in which he held that (1) the insurer did not owe UIM coverage for the 2014 accident, and (2) the insured’s claims were barred by the statute of limitations. With regard to the issue of coverage, Judge Smail distinguished the present facts from Gallagher, noting that here the insured specifically signed the statutorily prescribed form waiving stacking. Therefore, the waiver was valid, and coverage was properly denied.
This case serves as an important limitation to the reach of the Gallagher opinion and confirms that a valid waiver of stacking that complies with Section 1738 of the MVFRL will properly preclude coverage. Anyone wishing to obtain a copy of the Memorandum Opinion and Order can contact attorney Aaron Weiss at Weiss@zklaw.com
 The court in Gallagher held that the household vehicle exclusion constituted a de facto waiver of stacked coverage, which was in violation of the MVFRL and therefore unenforceable.