Appeal from the Order of the Insurance Commissioner in case of John F. A. Earley v. Home Indemnity Insurance Co., dated March 21, 1977.
John F. A. Earley, petitioner, for himself.
Peter T. Daraskes, with him Richard W. Hopkins; Thomas Gary; White and Williams; David T. Kluz, Assistant Attorney General; John H. Isom, Assistant Attorney General; Guy J. DePasquale, Assistant Attorney General; and Robert P. Kane, Attorney General, for respondents.
Judges Crumlish, Jr., Blatt and DiSalle, sitting as a panel of three. President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Mencer, Rogers, Blatt, DiSalle and Craig. Judges Wilkinson, Jr. and MacPhail did not participate. Opinion by Judge DiSalle.
John F. A. Earley (Earley) filed this Petition for Review from a determination by the Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner (Commissioner) dated March 21, 1977. The Commissioner ruled that the decision made by Home Indemnity Insurance Co. (Insurer) not to renew Earley's automobile insurance was based on reasons valid under the law, and therefore refused to disturb the Insurer's decision. The case was originally heard by a panel of judges of this Court, and was later listed for reargument before the Court en Banc.
On January 27, 1977, the Insurer sent Earley written notice that his automobile insurance would not be renewed after its expiration date of March 1, 1977. The Insurer stated in the notice that the frequency
of Earley's claims was the reason for its decision. In support of its position, the Insurer cited four incidents which involved vehicles owned by Earley.*fn1
Upon receipt of this notice, Earley immediately filed a petition with the Pennsylvania Insurance Department contesting the non-renewal. The Insurance Department, pursuant to 31 Pa. Code § 59.7, assigned the matter to a Department investigator. The investigator thereafter requested and received from the Insurer more detailed information on each of the four incidents cited in its notice of non-renewal. After consideration of this additional information, the investigator advised Earley that the Insurer's decision not to renew his policy was not violative of Section 3 of the Act of June 5, 1968 (Act No. 78), P.L. 140, 40 P.S. § 1008.3, pertaining to the cancellation of, refusal to write, and the refusal to renew automobile insurance,*fn2 and that the decision would not be disturbed.
Upon notification of the investigator's decision, Earley requested and received a hearing before the
Commissioner pursuant to 31 Pa. Code § 59.7. On March 14, 1977, the Commissioner's Hearing Officer received testimony and other evidence on the matter. At this hearing, Earley argued that the actual reason his insurance was not renewed was because he was Irish and Catholic, and because he had four children of driving age. He contended, therefore, that ...