Cohen, Feeley, Altemose & Rambo Secures Win For Auto Insurance Policyholders in Rush v. Erie-Regular Use Exclusion Void
For over 30 years, insurance companies in Pennsylvania inserted a provision into standard household auto insurance policies that drastically limited the “underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage” an injured person could recover. Cohen, Feeley, Altemose & Rambo Partner Mark Altemose has successfully challenged this provision, called the “regular use exclusion,” which has now been held to be void and unenforceable. This is an immense benefit to many thousands of Pennsylvanians and their families.
The “regular use” exclusion is a provision that denied insureds the right to compensation for injury or death under the uninsured and underinsured coverage they purchased for their own household auto policy, where the accident was caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver. The exclusion states that there is no uninsured or underinsured coverage under such a policy if the insured was occupying a “regularly used vehicle.”
As a result of this exclusion, anyone who regularly used any vehicle they were occupying at the time of the accident that was not covered under the person’s own household auto policy, including police officers, firefighters, EMTs, truck drivers, construction workers, and any others who regularly drove or otherwise occupied a vehicle supplied to them by their employers for use during work, were denied the uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage they purchased under their household auto policies. This often times had devastating economic consequences for hard-working Pennsylvanians and their families, who were left without full compensation for the pain and suffering they endured, and, sadly, at times left destitute through no fault of their own.
Many law firms have filed lawsuits challenging the “regular use exclusion” on behalf of their clients over the years but without success.
Despite this history of losses in the courts, the law firm of Cohen, Feeley, Altemose & Rambo believed that this exclusion violated the law. Recently, Partner Mark K. Altemose acted as lead counsel in a court challenge to this law on behalf of a police officer client who suffered severe injuries while operating his police cruiser. In this case, Mark and his team made arguments which had never been previously made in a case challenging the regular use exclusion.
Our firm is proud to announce that on October 22, 2021, the Pennsylvania Superior Court issued its decision in Rush v. Erie Insurance Exchange, 1443 E.D.A. 2020, 2021 PA Super 215, 2021 Pa. Super. LEXIS 646 (Pa. Super. 2021). In this very important decision, the Court held that the regular use exclusion violates Pennsylvania’s Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law, and declared it void and unenforceable.
Said Altemose after receiving the decision: “This decision is not just a victory for our client. It is a victory for all people who regularly use vehicles owned by others, including police officers, firefighters, first responders, truck drivers, construction workers, and all other hard-working Pennsylvanians who regularly use their employers’ vehicles and are seriously injured or killed while using such vehicles through no fault of their own. The decision ensures that Pennsylvanians have the opportunity to obtain full compensation for their injuries and the pain and suffering they have endured, and will be able to take care of themselves and their families.
I would like to thank my associate, Theodore (“TJ”) Schick, and co-counsel, Scott Cooper and Jim Haggerty, for their assistance in achieving this victory. It was truly a team effort.”