Renewing A Policy

Insurance attorneys in Dallas need to be able to advise a client when a policy had been properly renewed. An opinion from the Houston Court of Appeals [14th Dist.] helps in this advice. It is a 2009 case styled, Hartland v. Progressive County Mutual. Here is some information to know.
Hartland, obtained auto insurance through Progressive County Mutual Insurance. Policy number 37156966-1 began on November 9, 2003, at 12:01 a.m. and ended on May 9, 2004, at 12:01 a.m. Progressive sent Hartland a renewal bill on April 14, and a renewal reminder on April 23, stating the renewal policy period would run from May 9 to November 9. Hartland claimed he mailed a check in the amount of the renewal premium on May 8; Progressive attached a lockbox report to its counterclaim for declaratory judgment showing the postmark date was May 11. Joan Hartland was in a single-car accident on May 9, 2004 at approximately 8:00 a.m., damaging a car covered under the initial policy.
Progressive presented evidence that it received the check on May 16, and on May 18, sent Hartland a revised renewal declarations page. Policy number 37156966-2 listed coverage dates from May 12, 2004, at 12:01 a.m. to November 12, 2004, at 12:00 a.m., excluding coverage for the date of the accident. Progressive denied the claim, stating the policy was not in effect at the time of the loss.
Hartland sued, alleging breach of contract and unfair claim-settlement practice. Progressive filed a counterclaim for declaratory judgment, stating it owed no duty or obligation to Hartland because the policy had expired.
The jury found in favor of Progressive.
Hartland contends the trial court erred because among other things Progressive violated sections of the Texas Administrative Code, making any attempts to restrict Hartland’s coverage void.
Hartland asserted Progressive violated various sections of the Texas Administrative Code in its handling of his policy.
Hartland was correct that Texas Administrative Code section 5.7005(c) provides ” personal automobile policies which are written for a period of less than one year must be renewed, at the option of the insured, for additional periods so as to accumulate a minimum of 12 months’ continuous coverage.” However, coverage can terminate if premium payments are not made to renew the policy before the initial policy expires. Here, Progressive offered to renew Hartland’s six-month policy for an additional six months; however, Hartland exercised his option to not renew the policy by failing to make a timely payment to renew the policy, thus ensuring continuous coverage for a one year period of time. Therefore, because the policy expired under its own terms when he failed to timely remit his payment to renew his policy, Progressive did not violate section 5.7005(c) of the Texas Administrative Code.
Hartland also claims Progressive violated section 5.7007 of the Texas Administrative Code. According to section 5.7007(a), ” a policy must be renewed at expiration, at the option of the policyholder, unless the company has mailed written notice to the policyholder of its intention to decline renewal at least 30 days in advance of the policy expiration date.” Progressive did not have an intention to decline renewal; in fact, Progressive offered to renew the policy, at the option of Hartland, by sending him the notice of renewal. A notice of cancellation is not required when a policy expires under its own terms. Because Hartland’s policy had expired under its own terms, the court held Progressive was not obligated to comply with the cancellation procedures found in section 5.7007(a) of the Texas Administrative Code.
Hartland next contended Progressive violated sections 5.7011 and 5.7014 of the Texas Administrative Code. However, pursuant to section 5.7001(b), sections 5.7011 and 5.7014 apply to all automobile insurance policies except personal automobile policies. Since Hartland’s policy was a personal automobile insurance policy, sections 5.7011 and 5.7014 do not apply and Progressive was not required to comply with any procedures found therein.
Hartland also contended Progressive’s conduct violated section 5.7004 of the Texas Administrative Code. Section 5.7004 provides:
Any company that declines to recognize or put into effect additional coverage to which an insured is entitled under the provisions of an existing policy, or that attempts to reduce or restrict coverage under the provisions of an existing policy by endorsements or by any other means, is in violation of these sections if such acts are performed without the consent of the insured, and shall be subject to the same penalties as a policy that is cancelled in violation of these sections.
Because Hartland’s policy expired under its own terms, Progressive did not (1) impose a restriction or reduction on his coverage; or (2) decline to recognize or put into effect additional coverage.
Hartland lost!