Insurance attorneys need to read an August 2017, opinion from the 14th Court of Appeals. It is styled, Tiffany Falkenhagen Thompson v. Geico Insurance Agency, Inc.
Texas Personal Automobile Policy’s require the policyholder to notify the insurer of the policyholder’s acquisition of a replacement vehicle for the coverage to extend to damage to the newly acquired vehicle. This case is presented on cross motions for summary judgment regarding the notification requirement in the policy. Tiffany says the policy provision does not apply to leased vehicles or alternatively, the policy language is ambiguous. Geico says they were not timely notified of the replacement vehicle and thus, there is no coverage. The trial court ruled in favor of Geico and this appeals court upholds that ruling.
Tiffany owned a 201 Infiniti G37 auto and secured insurance from Geico. She traded in the G37 and leased a 2015 Infiniti Q50 auto. A few months later while driving the Q50, Tiffany was involved in an accident.
The same day as the accident, Tiffany notified Geico of the loss and it was the first time Geico was aware of the new auto. Geico denied the claim because they were not notified within thirty days of Tiffany having acquired a new vehicle as required by the policy and this lawsuit resulted.
Geico’s motion for summary judgment says the denial is justified based on Tiffany’s failure to notify them of the new auto.
Tiffany argued the policy covers the Q50 because the policy does not require her to notify Geico that she had acquired the leased vehicle and alternatively, the policy’s language is ambiguous and should be construed in her favor.