was sufficient if the additional insured were properly identified in the notice.
Plaintiff claims that he did not know of the existence of the Warner policy and did not know that the policy might provide coverage for him. Thus, plaintiff contends that his lack of knowledge excuses the obligation to give prompt notice. In Unverzagt v. Prestera, 339 Pa. 141, 13 A. 2d 46 (1940), the Court stated that lack of knowledge of the existence of the policy was an extenuating circumstance which excuses a delay in notice as a matter of law, provided that the insured is not guilty of a lack of due diligence in discovering what, if any, insurance exists.
Under the facts presented in this action, Walter Hawthorne told his employer about the accident the day of its occurrence, but made no other inquiries of anyone as to what insurance, if any, might cover him. There is no indication anywhere that Liberty Mutual was ever aware of the accident until over one year after its occurrence when it was notified by United States Casualty.
Further, the record does not indicate that Walter Hawthorne was even at that late date identified in such notice. Walter Hawthorne did not directly notify Liberty Mutual until April 9, 1959, over two years after the accident.
In the Unverzagt case, supra, the Court was dealing with a delay of about 4 months and it found that the defendant did not exercise due diligence. In this case the delay was at least one year and there is no indication of due diligence nor any explanation for failure to notify except lack of knowledge. Plaintiff cites Home Indemnity Company v. Ware, 285 F.2d 852 (3rd Cir. 1960), as authority for the proposition that where the policy does not plainly afford coverage for an accident, the insured is excused for delaying the giving of notice. In that case Ware's stepson stole the car of a neighbor and injured others while driving it. There was doubt as to whether under the law, Ware's policy would afford coverage. Ware did not notify his insurance company for about 2 1/2 months and the Court held that under the circumstances the delay was not unreasonable. That case is not authority for the contention that under the circumstances of this case, the delay was reasonable.
Plaintiff's lack of knowledge of possible coverage does not excuse his obligation to notify within a reasonable time. He failed to exercise due diligence (or in fact any diligence) to determine what, if any, coverage existed as to him. Unverzagt v. Prestera, supra. Consequently, independently of Judge Wood's decision, I similarly conclude that notice to Liberty Mutual was not timely made and, consequently, that plaintiff is not entitled to recover.
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
1. This Court has jurisdiction of the subject matter and the parties, there being requisite diversity of citizenship and proper jurisdictional amount in controversy; and, venue is properly within this District.
2. Pennsylvania law is applicable to this case.
3. Pennsylvania law strictly construes notice provisions in insurance contracts.
4. The requirement in the insurance contract to give timely notice of an accident is applicable to plaintiff.
5. A lack of knowledge of the existence of an insurance policy may excuse a delay in giving notice provided the "insured" exercises due diligence to discover what, if any, coverage is applicable to him.
6. Under the circumstances of this case, the delay was unreasonable, and not excused.