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Bumbarger v. Peerless Indem. Ins. Co.

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

June 6, 2014

HELEN M. BUMBARGER AND RONALD C. BUMBARGER, HER HUSBAND, Appellees
v.
PEERLESS INDEMNITY INSURANCE COMPANY, Appellant

Argued November 19, 2013.

Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Clearfield County, Civil Division, No(s): 2010-1563-CD. Before AMMERMAN, J.

Brigid Q. Alford, Camp Hill, for appellant.

Erin K. Rudert, Pittsburgh, for appellees.

James C. Haggerty, Philadelphia, for Pennsylvania Association for Justice, participating party.

Suzanne T. Tighe, Wilkes Barre, for Pennsylvania Defense Institute, participating party.

BEFORE: BENDER, P.J., FORD ELLIOTT, P.J.E., BOWES, J., GANTMAN, J., DONOHUE, J., ALLEN, J., LAZARUS, J., OTT, J., and WECHT, J. OPINION BY LAZARUS, J. GANTMAN, J., concurs in the result.

OPINION

Page 873

LAZARUS, J.

Peerless Indemnity Insurance Company (Peerless) appeals from the order [1] granting summary judgment in favor of Appellees Helen M. Bumbarger (Helen) and Ronald C. Bumbarger (the Bumbargers), entitling the Bumbargers to $100,000 in stacked Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage, and denying Peerless' cross-motion for summary judgment. After careful review, we affirm.

On May 17, 2007, Peerless issued Helen Bumbarger (Helen)[2] a personal automobile policy (the Policy) providing for motor vehicle coverage on two of her vehicles, a 1980 Ford F-150 pick-up truck and a 1998 Ford Taurus. The Policy provided for bodily injury coverage in the amount of $25,000/person/$50,000/occurrence. The Policy also provided for UM/UIM motorist coverage in the amount of $25,000/person/$50,000/occurrence. At the same time, Helen executed forms rejecting stacking of UM/UIM coverage.[3] The rejection forms were valid and in compliance with the provisions of the Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law (MVFRL), 75 Pa.C.S.A. § § 1701-1799.7.

On July 24, 2007, Helen purchased a third vehicle, a 1995 Ford F-150 pick-up truck. That same day, she notified her insurance agent of the purchase and requested that it be added to and insured under the Policy.[4] The insurance agent notified Peerless about the third vehicle and the vehicle was added to the Policy through a validly executed endorsement, effective July 24, 2007. On October 2, 2009, Helen notified her insurance agent that she had purchased a fourth vehicle, a 1985 Ford Bronco; she requested that this

Page 874

vehicle also be added to and insured under the Policy. The agent notified Peerless and coverage of the fourth vehicle became effective as of the date of purchase; unlike the third vehicle, this fourth vehicle was not added by way of endorsement, but rather its addition was reflected by an amended declarations page.

On December 3, 2009, while driving the 1995 Ford pick-up (third vehicle) Helen was involved in a motor vehicle accident with an uninsured vehicle; she subsequently submitted a claim for UM benefits under the Policy. Helen claimed that she was entitled to stacked UM benefits; Peerless maintained that the original waiver of stacked UM/UIM benefits under the Policy, executed on May 17, 2007, remained in effect.

On September 2, 2010, the Bumbargers filed the underlying complaint against Peerless alleging breach of the insurance contract for failure to provide stacked UM benefits in the absence of new waivers after they had purchased their third and fourth vehicles. Peerless filed preliminary objections, in response to which the Bumbargers filed an amended complaint. Peerless then filed an answer, raising various affirmative ...


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