The opinion of the court was delivered by: KATZ
This is a declaratory judgment action to determine whether plaintiff's ward, Francis Talley, is entitled to basic loss benefits as defined under the Pennsylvania No-Fault Act, 40 Pa.S. §§ 1009.101 et seq. and if so, which of the two defendant insurance carriers is obligated to pay these benefits. The case was submitted for decision on stipulated facts.
The stipulated facts show that at the time of the accident on March 17, 1982, when Francis Talley's vehicle was struck by a train, Talley was domiciled in Pennsylvania. He was living in a house in Pennsylvania that he had purchased on June 25, 1980. He never owned any real estate in Delaware, and there is no substantial evidence that he intended to return to Delaware where he had lived prior to February 1979. As a Pennsylvania domiciliary who was injured in an automobile accident in Pennsylvania, Talley is entitled to recover no-fault benefits under the Pennsylvania, rather than the Delaware, No-Fault Act. See 40 Pa.S. § 1009.110(c)(1):
The basic loss benefits available to any victim . . . shall be determined pursuant to the provisions of the state no-fault plan for motor vehicle insurance in effect in the state of domicile of the victim on the date when the motor vehicle accident resulting in injury occurs.
Thus, the only real issue is whether Commercial Union or Travelers is required to pay these Pennsylvania no-fault benefits.
Commercial Union issued an auto insurance policy to Talley in November, 1976, when he was still living in Delaware. The policy was in effect at the time of the accident. If that policy provides coverage for basic loss benefits, as defined at 40 Pa.S. § 1009.202, then Commercial Union will be liable to Talley for payment of those benefits. See 40 Pa.S. § 1009.204(a)(2):
The security for the payment of basic loss benefits applicable to an injury to an insured is the security under which the victim . . . is insured.
If, however, the Commercial Union policy does not provide coverage for basic loss benefits as defined by the Pennsylvania no-fault scheme, then Travelers, as the assigned claims plan insurer, will be liable to Talley for payment of these benefits. See 40 Pa.S. § 1009.108(a)(1)(A):
If this act is in effect on the date when the accident resulting in injury occurs, a victim . . . may obtain basic benefits through the assigned claims plan . . . if basic loss insurance is not applicable to the injury for a reason other than those specified in the provisions on ineligible claimants.
The security for the payment of basic loss benefits applicable to an injury to any other individual is the applicable assigned claims plan.
See also United Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance v. U.S. Fid. & Guar., 501 Pa. 646, 462 A.2d 1300, 1303 (1983): "For individuals who do not possess insurance providing basic loss benefits, the No-Fault Act provides an Assigned Claims Plan." The defendant, Travelers, would be liable under the assigned claims plan as if it had issued a policy of basic loss insurance required by the Pennsylvania statute, if no other insurance covers that loss. 40 Pa.S. § 1009.108(b) and § 1009.204.
The question of which insurance carrier is liable thus turns on the interpretation of the Commercial Union policy. If it is interpreted to provide basic loss benefits coverage, then Commercial Union must pay those benefits. If it is interpreted not to provide ...