Uninsured Motorist Coverage Rejection

Drivers in Grand Prairie, Arlington, Duncanville, De Soto, Cedar Hill, Mansfield, Irving, Dallas, and other places in Dallas and Tarrant County are required by law to be offered Uninsured Motorist protection when they purchase liability insurance on their vehicles. This is mandatory unless the coverage is rejected in writing.
A 1974, Beaumont Court of Appeals case deals with this issue in a fact pattern that has an unusual twist to it. The style of the case is, Oran Greene v.Great American Insurance Company. In this case the court ruled in favor of the insurance company.
Here is some background.
Oran Greene brought this suit for damages under the uninsured motorist (UM) provision of an auto policy issued to his mother, Letitia Greene. He was injured in a collision while driving his mother’s automobile, when it was in a collision with another auto driven by an uninsured motorist. In the policy was a Form 119 which reads as follows:
“It is agreed that the insurance afforded by this policy shall not apply with respect to any claim arising from accidents which occur while any automobile is being operated by Oran Castine Greene.” This was acknowledged by Letitia Smith Greene.
The complaint by Greene here is that an attempt to exclude him from UM coverage by the use of Form 119 is void as contrary to public policy. His arguement was that this form violated the Texas Motor Vehicle Safety Responsibility Act.
The laws regulating UM coverage are currently found in the Texas Insurance Code, Section 1952.101 thru 1952.110. This section currently and at the time of this case required that all policies of insurance provide UM coverage. A policy would have this coverage unless the coverage was rejected in writing.
Greene’s argument was that a rejection of this coverage was against the above Act.
In response the court stated, “The plaintiff in this case was offered, and accepted, a contract furnishing her uninsured motorist coverage except when her son was driving the automobile. Why should that be contrary to public policy? If plaintiff’s contention is allowed to become the law in Texas, insured motorists with sons and daughters with bad driving records will be unable to secure uninsured motorist coverage in any form except from the assigned pool at a much greater cost. Public policy dictates the allowance of partial rejection of such coverage in order to allow insureds in that situation to secure insurance they can afford, just as they presently can when liability coverage is in question.
Attorneys for Greene spent a great deal of time argueing that this violated the Act and they also spent a great deal of time talking about California law in this area of insurance regulation. This court in response, spent a great deal of time drawing distinctions between the Texas law and the California law. Here is some of this court’s response:
“The ‘whittling away of insurance coverage’ which was repeatedly codemned in all of the above California cases has not met with the same reception in Texas. Form 119, which does allow particular policy exclusions, has been approved not only by the State Bar of Insurance (currently the Texas Department of Insurance) but also by the courts of this state (then cites the Texas cases). Although these cases do not involve the issue of uninsured motorists, it is nevertheless true that the terms of the Form were approved including the words ‘any claim.’ The affirmance of Form 119 indicates the Texas policy that some limitations may be applied to insurance coverage, and there has been no Texas case which stated that such limitation is to apply only to liability provisions of a policy. There appears to be no authority to negate the conclusion that Texas has followed the majority of jurisdictions in enacting uninsured motorists’ coverage with the premise that such coverage is to put the motorists injured in a collision with an uninsured vehicle in the same position that they would have been in had the other motorists been properly insured.”
In conclusion the court said that the evidence shows Letitia Greene wanted to secure insurance coverage for her automobile, but she had a son under twenty-five years of age with a bad driving record. She was informed by the agent that Great American would not write such insurance unless she signed a form excluding her son from coverage. She was also informed that the insurance could be secured with the son included through another company or through the assigned risk plan at a higher cost. Letitia Greene chose to take this policy excluding her son from coverage. Parties should be allowed to contract in this manner if they want to, and the contract entered into should not be found to be contrary to public policy.
As with the majority of situations involving insurance, it is important to consult with an experienced Insurance Law Attorney in order to have some assurance that the insurance company is not violating a person’s rights in Texas.