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Erie Underinsured Motorist Lawyers : Motorcyclist Denied Coverage in Allstate v. Hymes

In Allstate Fire and Casualty Insurance Co. v. Hymes, the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County held that a Pennsylvania motorcyclist injured when struck from the rear was not entitled to UIM benefits from his own auto insurance policy due to the household exclusion in his auto policy.

The household exclusion in Pennsylvania auto insurance policies applies to limit the availability of uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist coverage to people who would otherwise be entitled to the coverage. The household exclusion applies when someone who would otherwise be entitled to coverage is injured while occupying a vehicle owned by the named insured or a resident relative but not insured for Pennsylvania UM/UIM coverage on the policy at issue.

The household exclusion is often seen in Erie motorcycle accidents. Motorcycle owners find that it can be expensive or impossible to add their motorcycle to the coverage they have on other vehicles in the household. To save money or avoid inconvenience, the motorcycle owner will purchase a separate policy to insure the motorcycle. If the motorcycle owner (or a relative who resides with the owner) is injured while on the motorcycle, the insurance companies who would otherwise provide coverage to the family via policies covering the other family vehicles will deny coverage and assert that the household exclusion entitles them to deny coverage.

In Hymes, a motorcyclist was struck from behind and thrown from his motorcycle in a Pennsylvania motorcycle accident. After being thrown from his motorcycle, the motorcyclist suffered the injuries at issue in the case and made claim for underinsured motorist benefits on his Pennsylvania auto insurance policy which was purchased from Allstate.

Allstate denied the motorcyclist's claim, arguing that he was injured while occupying a vehicle he owned but which was not insured on the policy (the motorcycle) and therefore was barred from coverage by the household exclusion. The lawyer for the motorcyclist made the inventive argument that the household exclusion ought not apply because the motorcyclist was not on the motorcycle when he was injured. That is, the motorcyclist had been thrown from the vehicle prior to injury.

The Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County rejected the novel argument advanced by counsel for the injured motorcyclist and granted judgment in favor of Allstate.

The larger issue for people who buy motorcycles or who have multiple vehicles in the household, not all of which are insured on the same policy, is to be mindful of the long term risk of separating the vehicles from the household's "master" policy. While there may be some short term savings on premiums associated with such a maneuver, you're really exposing your family to the risk of being inadequately insured. We recommend to our clients that all vehicles in a household be insured on a single policy.

At Purchase, George & Murphey, P.C. we are local Erie car accident lawyers who are committed to educating people about Pennsylvania car accident cases. In addition to the articles and videos that are available to you here on our site we've also authored a book that we offer for free to people who've been injured in Pennsylvania car crashes. In "The Ultimate Guide to Pennsylvania Car Accident Cases: A Roadmap to Justice " we explain all the ins and outs of Pennsylvania car accidents, from the insurance you buy, to what to do after an accident to how to select the right Erie injury lawyer for you and your case.

Click on the link above to order your free copy. For a free consultation with one of our experienced Erie injury lawyers, call today at 877-505-9548 or locally at 814-580-5017.


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