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INSURANCE LAW: An insured’s written request for a lesser amount of uninsured motorist coverage complied with statutory requirement was a question for the court, not the jury

INSURANCE LAW: An Insured’s Written Request For A Lesser Amount Of Uninsured Motorist Coverage Complied With Statutory Requirement Was A Question For The Court, Not The Jury

Plaintiff, who was injured in a motor vehicle accident, sued the other driver and two insurers, including the insurer of a corporate owner of a fleet of cars for uninsured/underinsured coverage.

The plaintiff alleged that insurer’s policy provided $1 million in uninsured motorist coverage and the insurer moved for summary judgment, claiming that the policy limited uninsured coverage to $100,000 pursuant to the fleet owner’s written request for a lower policy limit for uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.  The insurer moved to bifurcate the issues of coverage and damages and the Superior Court agreed that the coverage issue presented an issue of statutory interpretation and was thus a question of law.

Specifically, the Court held that the fleet owners failed to state premium costs when electing to reduce uninsured motorist coverage limits in violation of Conn. Gen. Stat. § 38a-336(a)(2) and whether that failure defeated the election was a matter of statutory construction for the Court to decide.

Ultimately, the Court held that strict compliance with § 38a-336(a)(2) is not required when the policy in question is a commercial fleet policy.  A fleet owner employee offered credible testimony of the procurement of the policy and the company’s desire to purchase the lowest amount of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.  Thus the Court found that the failure to state premium costs on the waiver form did not defeat the company’s election to reduce its uninsured/underinsured coverage limits.

Russbach v. Yanez-Ventura, NNH. CV-16-6060829-S (01/30/2018)