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CAPITOL INSURANCE COMPANY v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (02/25/85)

decided: February 25, 1985.

CAPITOL INSURANCE COMPANY, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, INSURANCE DEPARTMENT, AND ANTHONY A. GEYELIN, INSURANCE COMMISSIONER, RESPONDENTS



Appeal from the Order of the Insurance Commissioner of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in case of In Re: Appeal of Alice M. Hartman, 2750 Axe Factory Rd., Apt. B112, Philadelphia, Pa. 19152, File No. 83-365-00892, Capitol Insurance Company Policy No. A28919, Docket No. P83-4-12.

COUNSEL

James D. Rosen, Josel & Rosen, P.C., for petitioner.

Beth C. Sheligo, Assistant Counsel, for respondents.

Bruce D. Hess, Howland, Hess, Guinan & Torpey, for intervenor, Alice M. Hartman.

Judges Williams, Jr., Doyle and Barry, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Doyle. This decision was reached prior to the resignation of Judge Williams, Jr.

Author: Doyle

[ 87 Pa. Commw. Page 639]

This is an appeal by Capitol Insurance Company (Capitol) from an adjudication of the Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner (Commissioner)*fn1 which construed an automobile insurance policy between Capitol

[ 87 Pa. Commw. Page 640]

    and Alice M. Hartman (Insured)*fn2 to provide coverage for the one year period between February 22, 1982 and February 22, 1983, including the date of January 15, 1983, on which Insured sustained damage to her automobile in the amount of $3,820.00.

On February 22, 1982, Capitol issued to Insured an automobile insurance policy providing collision and comprehensive coverage for her 1978 Buick Regal automobile. Insured timely paid the initial six months premium due on the policy for the period from February 22, 1982 to August 22, 1982. Then, on or about June 15, 1982, Capitol prepared for Insured a document entitled "Expiration Notice" which directed the recipient to "CONTACT YOUR BROKER FOR DETAILS." Although this notice provided that "failure to pay the premium within the allotted time is construed as a refusal by the applicant to accept the insurance," no premium amount or policy period was indicated. This document allegedly was mailed both to Insured and to the agent through whom she had purchased her policy. The Commissioner, however, found as a fact that neither party ever received it.

On January 15, 1983, Insured was involved in an automobile accident, as a result of which her Buick Regal was damaged. Capitol refused to pay for the repairs to the vehicle on the basis that Insured's policy had been terminated for nonpayment of premiums. Insured had the vehicle repaired at a cost of $3,820.00 and requested an investigation of her claim by the Pennsylvania Insurance Department. On March 1, 1983, an initial determination was issued in favor of Capitol. Following a formal hearing on June 20, 1983, however, this determination was reversed and an

[ 87 Pa. Commw. Page 641]

    order was issued directing Insured to pay the premium due for the period from August 22, 1982 through February 22, 1983 and directing Capitol to pay for all valid claims within the same time period. Capitol was also ordered to "cease and desist its practice of not delivering or mailing to its insureds a Notice of Cancellation whenever it attempts to terminate an automobile ...


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