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MICHAEL EGNAL v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (07/21/89)

decided: July 21, 1989.

MICHAEL EGNAL, PETITIONER,
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, INSURANCE DEPARTMENT, RESPONDENT



Appeal from No. PH88-7-5, dated November 16, 1988, Insurance Department.

COUNSEL

Michael H. Egnal, pro se.

Karen Gantt, Asst. Counsel, with her, Heidi B. Hamman Shakely, Asst. Counsel, Theodie L. Peterson, Chief of Litigation, and Linda J. Wells, Chief Counsel, for respondent.

Barry and McGinley, JJ., and Kalish, Senior Judge.

Author: Kalish

[ 132 Pa. Commw. Page 415]

Michael Egnal (petitioner) appeals for review of an order and adjudication of the Insurance Commissioner, affirming the decision of the Valley Forge Insurance Company (Insurer) not to renew the insurance policy of petitioner. We affirm.

The Insurer notified petitioner of its refusal to renew petitioner's automobile insurance policy. This refusal was affirmed by the Insurance Department. Petitioner appealed to the Insurance Commissioner. As a result of a hearing attended by petitioner and a representative of the Insurer, the Insurance Commissioner made the following findings:

1. -- On April 1, 1986, petitioner backed out of his garage and struck a steel post.

2. -- On January 6, 1988, petitioner's foot slipped off the brake and struck another vehicle in the rear which was propelled forward striking the vehicle in front of it.

Section 3 of the Automobile Insurance Act*fn1 sets forth the standards for determining whether an insurer may refuse to renew an automobile insurance policy. This section provides that, "[n]o insurer shall cancel or refuse to renew a policy of automobile insurance on the basis of one accident within the thirty-six month period prior to the upcoming anniversary date of the policy." 40 P.S. § 1008.3(b). Thus, it is the legislature's intent to prohibit a refusal to renew on the basis of only one accident. Two accidents with or without fault, unless excluded under section 3(a) of the Automobile Insurance Act, 40 P.S. § 1008.3(a), constitute valid justification for refusal to renew. Perry v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Co., 86 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 400, 485 A.2d 516 (1984); Appeal of Tabas, 81 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 527, 473 A.2d 1143 (1984).

[ 132 Pa. Commw. Page 416]

The burden of proof lies with the Insurer to show that there was more than one accident. The burden then shifts to the petitioner to prove circumstances warranting exclusion. The petitioner failed to show that either of the two accidents fell within one of the nine exceptions listed in section 3(a) of the Automobile Insurance Act. 40 P.S. § 1008.3(a).

Petitioner's reliance on section 5 of the Unfair Insurance Practices Act*fn2 is misplaced. The Unfair Insurance Practices Act applies to an insurance policy covering ownership of private residential properties or personal property wherein there was an increase of hazard or risk. Furthermore, according to the Pennsylvania Code, 31 Pa.Code §§ 59.1-59.2, automobiles are specifically ...


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