Law Offices of Cheney and Cheney, P.C.

130 South Main Street, Reidsville, GA 30453
(912) 557-4768

 

Waiving Uninsured Motorist Coverage: Part I

by Van Cheney

We have previously discussed uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage in this forum and its importance.  We have also discussed that under current Georgia law, a policyholder must reject such coverage in writing, even if the policyholder declines the coverage.  The Georgia Court of Appeals recently decided two cases that dealt with this requirement.  We will discuss those two cases this week and next week.
The first case arose from a 2009 automobile accident. The plaintiff was driving his police cruiser in Macon when another vehicle struck him. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the driver and owner of the other vehicle. He also served his wife’s insurance company because she had a personal automobile policy that included uninsured motorist coverage.
The insurance company objected on the grounds the policy included a “Named Driver Exclusion Endorsement” that identified the plaintiff as an “excluded driver.” The insurance company argued this absolved it of any liability for providing uninsured motorist coverage. The trial court agreed and granted the insurance company’s motion for summary judgment.
The plaintiff appealed and a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals reversed the grant of summary judgment. The Court held that the Named Driver Exclusion Endorsement did not comply with Georgia law governing uninsured motorist coverage. The law requires such coverage unless the insured expressly rejects it in writing. In this case the policy did not contain such a rejection of coverage for the plaintiff. The endorsement only spoke in general terms and referred to the plaintiff’s wife as the policyholder. Georgia law requires a more specific and unambiguous rejection of uninsured motorist coverage.
Without an attorney competent on personal injury matters, the plaintiff would have had access to the coverage afforded by the uninsured motorist policy and would have likely not been fully compensated.  For that reason, if you are involved in an automobile collision, please contact an attorney knowledgeable in these matters.
Van Cheney is a partner in the law firm of Cheney & Cheney, P.C., which specializes in Personal Injury, Workers’ Compensation and Social Security Disability.
If you have any legal questions of a general nature, please submit them to: Legal Forum, Post Office Box 1082, Reidsville, Georgia 30453.