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RAYMOND MARTIN v. STATE AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE ASSOCIATION (08/09/85)

filed: August 9, 1985.

RAYMOND MARTIN, PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE OF THE ESTATE OF PATTI A. MARTIN, DECEASED, APPELLANT,
v.
STATE AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE ASSOCIATION



Appeal from the Order of October 5, 1984, of the Court of Common Pleas, of Allegheny County, Civil Division, at No. G.D. 84-14109.

COUNSEL

Paul D. Kruper, Pittsburgh, for appellant.

Alan H. Perer, Pittsburgh, for appellee.

Del Sole, Montgomery and Bucher,*fn* JJ.

Author: Del Sole

[ 344 Pa. Super. Page 533]

This appeal was taken following the entry of a trial court order which denied Appellant's petition to Modify, Correct, or Vacate an Award of Arbitrators, and granted the petition of State Automobile Insurance Association (State Auto) to Confirm the arbitration award. Based upon the limited scope of review provided for this action under the provisions of Statutory Arbitration, 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 7301, et seq., we affirm.

The unique facts of this case are as follows: On or about May 6, 1981, State Auto issued a policy of insurance to Appellant's decedent. This original policy, and the original Declaration Sheet contained no language relating to underinsured motorist coverage. Periodically, State Auto would renew the decedent's insurance policy through the issuance of Declaration Sheets, which would set forth the applicable coverages and limits of liability. The Declaration Sheet for the period of January 6, 1983 through May 6, 1983 included "Underinsured Motorist" coverage with a limit of liability of $30,000 per accident. It appears that this coverage was included on the Declaration Sheet due to a computer malfunction, and no separate premium was charged for the coverage. In addition, State Auto's standard endorsement for underinsured motorist coverage was not included with the Declaration Sheet, and it was neither forwarded to, nor received by the decedent.

The endorsement defined an underinsured motor vehicle as one to which, "a bodily injury liability bond or policy applies at the time of the accident but its limit for bodily injury liability is less than the limit of liability for this [underinsured motorist] coverage." The policy limit for liability coverage under decedent's policy was $35,000 or $5,000 in excess of the limit for underinsured motorist coverage shown on the Declaration Sheet.

On March 27, 1983, during the period covered by the above described Declaration Sheet, the decedent was killed while riding as a passenger in her own car. Thereafter, Appellant retained counsel who contacted State Auto. Mr.

[ 344 Pa. Super. Page 534]

Robert C. Egley, a claims supervisor for State Auto, responded with a letter dated June 14, 1983, outlining State Auto's position with regard to the underinsured motorist coverage.

Subsequently, the parties entered into a separate agreement providing that the matter be submitted to arbitration "governed by the Pennsylvania Uniform Arbitration Act, 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 7301 et seq. " A hearing was held and two of the three arbitrators found in favor of State Auto accepting the carriers position that: 1) decedents vehicle was not an "underinsured motor vehicle" as that term is defined in the endorsement; and 2) the letter of June 14, 1983 did not constitute an agreement by State Auto to provide coverage without applying any of the provisions of the endorsement.

Appellant then petitioned to have the award modified, corrected or vacated, and State Auto petitioned to have the award confirmed. An order was entered denying Appellant's petition, and granting State Farm's petition to confirm the award. An appeal was then timely filed by Appellant pursuant to 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 7320(a)(3).

We initially note that this case is governed by the provisions of statutory arbitration outlined in the Uniform Arbitration Act (the Act), 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 7301 et seq. An agreement to arbitrate a controversy comes under this subchapter when "the agreement to arbitrate is in writing and expressly provides for arbitration pursuant to [the] subchapter." 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 7302(a). The record in this case contains such a written ...


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