NO. 1141 PITTSBURGH, 1981, Appeal from the judgment entered November 18, 1981 in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Civil Action, at No. 5938 of 1978.
Steven H. Wyckoff, Pittsburgh, for appellant.
John F. Becker, Pittsburgh, for appellee.
Cercone, President Judge, and Beck and Montemuro, JJ.
Appellant, Stephen Gdovic, applied for disability insurance with appellee, Catholic Knights of St. George, on March 16, 1976. That application included a check for payment in full of the first year's premium. Appellant received in return a receipt for the premium payment. On March 31, 1976, appellant's application was approved by the insurance company, and on that same date appellant was involved in an automobile accident in which he was injured. Despite the uncontroverted fact that the application was approved on March 31, 1976, the policy was issued bearing April 1, 1976 as its effective date.*fn1 Appellant filed a claim for benefits which was denied by appellee because the policy was not in effect at the time of the disabling injury.
Appellant initially filed a complaint in the Arbitration Division of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County. After an arbitration hearing, relief was granted to appellant in the amount of $4800.00. Appellee appealed that award and a non-jury trial was held. The trial judge entered a verdict in favor of appellee and dismissed appellant's timely exceptions. An appeal to this Court followed.
That appeal was quashed, 292 Pa. Super. 320, 437 A.2d 65, as the order denying exceptions had not been reduced to judgment and entered on the docket. Pa.R.A.P. 301(c). That order was later reduced to judgment and docketed and is now appealable.
Appellant argues, inter alia, that he was covered under the policy for his disabling injury because of his reasonable expectation that coverage had commenced "either as of the date of the payment of the first year's premium or, at the very latest, as of the date of the application which he submitted." (Appellant's brief at 14.) He cites Collister v. Nationwide Life Insurance Co., 479 Pa. 579, 594, 388 A.2d 1346, 1353 (1978), cert. den., 439 U.S. 1089, 99 S.Ct. 871, 59 L.Ed.2d 55 (1978) in support of that proposition:
The reasonable expectation of the insured is the focal point of the insurance transaction involved here. E.g., Beckham v. Travelers Ins. Co., 424 Pa. 107, 117-18, 225 A.2d 532, 537 (1967). Courts should be concerned with assuring that the insurance purchasing public's reasonable expectations are fulfilled. Thus, regardless of the ambiguity, or lack thereof, inherent in a given set of insurance documents (whether they be applications, conditional receipts, riders, policies, or whatever), the public has a right to expect that they will receive something of comparable value in return for the premium paid.
We agree and find that ample evidence was adduced at trial to substantiate a reasonable expectation by appellant that he was covered at the time of his injury.
Appellant testified on direct examination that Carl Krupski ("agent")*fn2 "told me that it would only take a few days to approve the policy and my coverage would go to the date of issuance of the check, which I was assuming that was the day that I was covered." Notes of Testimony ("N.T.") at 17. Appellant, in response to ...