In Prudential v. Ziatyk, Prudential tried to get out of paying benefits to its own insured using the novel argument that its policy only applied to car accidents, not truck accidents.
Mrs. Ziatyk was a Prudential insured on a Pennsylvania car insurance policy her husband had purchased for the family. She rented a U-Haul truck for some personal task and was injured when another driver negligently caused a Pennsylvania car accident. The other driver didn’t have enough insurance to compensate Mrs. Ziatyk for her injuries and so she turned to the underinsured motorist coverage that her husband had purchased from Prudential.
Imagine her surprise when Prudential said, in effect, “Our car insurance policies only protect you when you’re in a car. If you’re in a truck, you’re out of luck. If you wanted to be protected when you’re in a truck, you should have bought truck insurance.” Prudential then sued Mrs. Ziatyk to get out of paying her the benefits they owed under their policy.
Fortunately, Mrs. Ziatyk got help from an experienced Pennsylvania insurance lawyer . The trial court found Prudential had carefully written its policy to support their position and so Prudential won at the trial level. But on appeal, the Superior Court rejected Prudential’s argument, holding that Pennsylvania law invalidated the policy provision. Mrs. Ziatyk was lucky that she didn’t just listen to her insurance company. She was luckier still that she got an experienced Pennsylvania injury lawyer who helped her.
We’ve said it before but it bears repeating. Pennsylvania insurance companies are not your friend. They are not on your side. They are adversarial to you and you will almost always need an experienced Erie injury lawyer to help you with your Pennsylvania insurance claim. Even when they have both a contractual and legal obligation to act in good faith towards you (as they do when they’re your insurance company) there are still plenty of examples of insurance companies doing everything they can to get out of paying the benefits they promised when you paid your premiums.