When Is A Policy A “Renewal Policy?”

Most Grand Prairie insurance attorneys will some day be presented with the above question. A 2014, Houston Court of Appeals [14th Dist.] issued an opinion that addresses this issue. The style of the case is Cain V. Progressive County Mutual Insurance Co. Here is what it tells us.
This is an appeal from a summary judgment dismissing the Cain’s claims against Progressive under his auto policy. The main issue was whether the insurance policy in effect at the time of the accident falls within the plain meaning of the term “renewal insurance policy” in sections 1952.101(c) and 1952.152(b) of the Texas Insurance Code. The Court concluded that it did and that Progressive was not required to provide uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage or personal injury protection coverage in this policy.
On May 5, 2003, Corliss Madison obtained an automobile insurance policy from Progressive. At that time, Madison rejected in writing uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage (“UIM Coverage”) and personal injury protection coverage (“PIP Coverage”). Madison and Larry Bradford were named insureds under the policy. When the policy expired six months later, Madison entered into another insurance policy for the next six-month period. Madison then entered into seven more successive insurance policies every six months over the next four years.
Madison was involved in a vehicular accident on July 20, 2007, which resulted in her death in February 2012. Her husband, Donald R. Cain, made a claim under the Progressive automobile insurance policy that was in effect when the accident occurred. Cain sought UIM Coverage and PIP Coverage under the Policy. Progressive denied the claim.
Cain filed suit in the trial court alleging that Progressive breached the insurance contract and violated the Texas Insurance Code. Progressive counterclaimed for declaratory judgment. Seeking summary judgment, Progressive filed a motion asserting the following: (1) Madison’s written rejection in May 2003 of UIM Coverage and PIP Coverage was valid and enforceable and therefore there is no UIM Coverage or PIP Coverage; (2) the policies Madison entered into with Progressive after the initial policy were renewal policies; (3) Madison’s 2003 Rejection applied to the Policy; (4) in construing Insurance Code sections 1952.101 and 1952.152, Texas courts do not follow the “material change” theory espoused by Cain; (5) even if Texas followed the “material change” theory it would not be triggered under the facts of this case; and (6) Cain was not a named insured under the Policy.
The statutes requiring UIM Coverage and PIP Coverage under certain circumstances are remedial in nature. The Supreme Court of Texas has recognized that, because of their remedial purposes, these statutes should be interpreted liberally to give effect to the public policy that led to their enactment. Nevertheless, because courts presume that every word of a statute has been included or excluded for a reason, as a matter of judicial restraint, courts will not insert requirements that are not provided by law.
Madison, an insured named in the insurance policy, rejected UIM Coverage and PIP Coverage in writing when Progressive issued the first automobile liability policy to her in May 2003. Cain does not dispute the 2003 Rejection or argue that it is invalid or unenforceable. Nor does Cain allege that any insured named in the insurance policy requested UIM Coverage or PIP Coverage in writing. Instead, Cain disputes Progressive’s argument that the Policy was a “renewal insurance policy.” Madison is an insured named in the Policy, and she rejected UIM Coverage and PIP Coverage in connection with an insurance policy issued to her by Progressive before the issuance of the Policy. Therefore, if the Policy was a renewal insurance policy, then Progressive was not required to provide UIM Coverage or PIP Coverage, and the trial court did not err in granting summary judgment.
The summary-judgment evidence reflects that the Policy was the eighth policy in an unbroken chain of successive policies issued by Progressive after the expiration of the first six-month policy issued in May 2003. In each of these policies, Madison and Bradford were listed as named insureds. At one point the address of the insureds was changed. At various times, a vehicle was added or removed from coverage under this chain of insurance policies. In December 2005, Dennis A. Coleman, Jr., Madison’s son, was added to the existing policy as a driver and household resident. The Court presumes for the purposes analysis that Coleman was added as a named insured at Madison’s request. This change resulted in a significant increase in the insurance premium, and one month later Coleman was removed from the policy.
Progressive notified Madison on April 27, 2007, that “information received during the servicing of the 04/22/2007 claim indicates that Dennis A. Coleman, Jr. was either driving at the time of the loss, is a member of Madison’s household or has access to your vehicles.” As a result, Progressive added Coleman to the existing policy as a driver and household resident.
Coverage began on May 5, 2007, under the Policy, the eighth successive policy after the expiration of the first policy issued in May 2003. Both the “Renewal Declarations Page” and the “Revised Renewal Declarations Page,” issued on different dates in April 2007, reflect that UIM Coverage and PIP Coverage had been rejected. The summary-judgment evidence shows that Coleman continued to be listed as a driver and household resident.
Madison, an insured named in the insurance policy, rejected UIM Coverage and PIP Coverage in writing in May 2003, when Progressive issued the first automobile liability policy. The summary-judgment evidence conclusively proves that under the unambiguous statutory language, the Policy is a renewal insurance policy as that term is used in sections 1952.101(c) and 1952.152(b).