Auto Policy And Additional Vehicle

Grand Prairie lawyers and those in Mesquite, Garland, De Soto, Cedar Hill, Dallas, and other places in Dallas County need to understand how the courts interpret various insurance policies.
Here is a 1996, case out of the Eastland Court of Appeals that sheds some light on the topic of interpreting auto insurance policies. The style of the case is Gilberto Guerra, Jr. and Mary Massey Guerra v. Sentry Insurance, a Mutual Company.
This is a case wherein the trial court granted summary judgement for the Sentry Insurance. The question on appeal was whether the insurance policy provided liability coverage on an “additional vehicle” which was acquired by the policyholder (and which was involved in an accident within 30 days of its acquisition) when notice was not given to the insurance company within 30 days after the policyholder became the owner of the automobile.
Sentry issued a policy to Massey covering a 1989 Ford Escort. The policy defined “Your covered auto” as meaning:
1. Any vehicle shown in the Declarations;
2. Any of the following types of vehicles on the date you became the owner:
a. a private passenger auto; or b. a pickup, panel truck or van ….
This provision applies only if you:
a. acquire the vehicle during the policy period; and b. notify us within 30 days after you become the owner.
The vehicle involved in the wreck was not the Escort, nor was it a replacement vehicle. It was an additional vehicle, a 1969 pickup, which was acquired by Massey on November 2, 1990. The wreck involving the pickup occurred on November 12. The first notice to Sentry of the acquisition was more than 60 days after.
The United States 5th District Court of Appeals has stated that “For an after-acquired vehicle to be covered by the insurance policy, the insured must notify the insuror within 30 days of the vehicle’s acquisition.” This was stated in a case where coverage was denied.
This court said, “Under the clear language of the policy in question, three requirements must be met before an automobile may be considered a “Newly Acquired Automobile” under the policy: (1) Ownership must be acquired by the insured named in the existing policy, (2) It must replace an automobile owned by the insured or the insurance company must insure all automobiles owned by the insured, (3) The insurance company must be notified within thirty days following such delivery date. It has been held this type of “Newly Acquired Automobile” provision of a liability insurance policy automatically attaches on acquisitions of a new vehicle, subject only to be defeated by the failure to give notice within the prescribed thirty days. The intervention of an accident after acquisition but before reporting within the prescribed thirty-day period does not invalidate the insurance.”
This case serves as a good example for a person knowing what their policy says. All this lady had to do was call her insurance and report the the new vehicle and she would have had coverage. We all get busy with the details of everyday life and living and sometimes neglect things like this. Unfortunately, someone occasionally gets hurt.
Having said what was in the preceding paragraph, their are ways for an experienced Insurance Law Attorney to enhance the odds of recovery on the insurance policy if the attorney is contacted early in the case.