Travelers Commercial Insurance Company v. Harrington, ___ So. 3d ___, 37 Fla. L. Weekly D1140 (Fla. 1stDCA May 10, 2012)
The daughter was injured in a single car accident while she was a passenger in a vehicle owned by her father and driven by a non-family member with her father’s consent. The driver was insured by Nationwide, and the accident vehicle was insured by Travelers. Although both insurance companies paid the limits of their liability insurance coverage to the daughter, her medical expenses exceeded their payments, and she made a claim for uninsured motorist benefits under her family’s policy with Travelers. Travelers denied coverage because, under its policy language, an uninsured vehicle did not include “any vehicle which is owned by . . . the named insured or any family member.” The trial court ruled that this exclusion was invalid because it conflicted with Section 627.727(3), Florida Statutes, which provides that an uninsured motor vehicle includes (b) an underinsured vehicle, or (c) a vehicle with a liability insurance policy that excludes coverage for a Class II insured whose operation of the insured vehicle injures a Class I insured. Class I insureds include the named insured and resident relatives. Class II insureds include permissive users. The appellate court affirmed based upon Mullis v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., 252 So. 3d 229 (Fla. 1971), which recognized the distinction between Class I and Class II insureds, and Travelers Insurance Co. v. Warren, 678 so. 2d 324 (Fla. 1996), which held that Section 627.727(3)(c) applies “when a Class II permissive user operates a Class I insured’s family vehicle and causes injury to a Class I passenger.”
[Editor’s Note: This reader does not understand why subsection (3)(c) applies in this case because it does not appear as though Travelers denied liability coverage to the Class II permissive driver. In its statement of the facts, the court stated that both Nationwide and Travelers paid their liability insurance limits. Therefore, this reader is confused by the court’s decision.)
The trial court also ruled that the daughter was entitled to stacked uninsured motorist coverage even though her mother signed a written rejection of stacked coverage. Section 627.727(1), Florida Statutes, refers to a “written rejection . . . on behalf of all insureds, but Section 627.727(9) does not do so. Based on this distinction, the trial court ruled that the mother’s rejection was not binding on the daughter, and the appellate court affirmed.
The court certified to the Florida Supreme Court the two issues involved in this case as passing upon questions of great public importance.