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Prompt notification of uninsured motorist claim is required in case of permit



I Hyde v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, A20A1221, Court of Appeals of Georgia (2 September 2020) Elizabeth M. Hyde appealed against the decision of the Court of Appeal to grant summary judgment to State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company . Hyde claims that the trial court erred in finding that she did not give State Farm enough, demanding notice of her uninsured motoring language in a timely manner.

FACTS

The document shows that Hyde claimed that she was injured on August 18, 2016 when she was backed by Courtney Sawyer while stopping at an intersection. Hyde was driving his employer's vehicle. After the collision, Hyde returned to his workplace, picked up his own car and went straight to a doctor's office. The doctor, who examined her and x-rayed her neck that day, told her she had whiplash. Hyde underwent neck surgery in March 201

8 almost two years after the accident.

At the time of the accident, Hyde was insured under an insurance policy issued by State Farm. Hyde's policy with State Farm included uninsured motorist coverage. The policy requires that a person claiming under the cover of an uninsured motor vehicle must:

"notify [State Farm] of the claim and provide [State Farm] all details of death, injury, treatment and other information that [State Farm] may need as soon as possible after the injured insured is first examined or treated for the injury. "

The policy also provides that:

" Legal action may not be taken against [State Farm] until all provisions of this policy have been fully complied with. "

On December 7, 2016, Hide's attorney sent a letter to Hide's employer, Massey Restoration Group, regarding Hide's accident as a notice of a potential uninsured motorist's claim that may arise from the collision. Massey Restoration Group provided a copy of the letter to its State Farm agent, not Hyde & # 39 ;s State Farm & # 39 ;s Agent.

On June 13, 2018, Hyde brought an action against Sawyer, claiming damages for damages alleged to have occurred in the collision. Hyde served State Farm, as an uninsured driver, with the complaint and lawsuit.

State Farm responded to the complaint and moved to a summary judgment, claiming, inter alia, that Hyde failed to comply with the notice provisions of her insurance. The trial court granted State Farm a summary judgment. The trial court ruled that, by law, Hyde did not notify State Farm of her claim and did not provide any details about the injury, treatment and other information as soon as reasonably possible after she was first examined or treated for the injury under her policy.

ANALYSIS

Hyde claimed that State Farm was notified of its potential claim when Massey Restoration Group's State Farm agent received the letter dated December 7, 2016 informing Massey Restoration Group of Hyde's potential uninsured motoring claims. I Lankford v . State Farm Mut . Automobile Ins . Co ., 307 Ga. App. 12, 15-16 (703 SE2d 436) (2010) Lankford first informed State Farm that he had been involved in an accident and first raised the issue of uninsured car insurance under his own insurance almost two years after the accident. On appeal, he claimed that State Farm had an actual notice of the accident because the defendant also had insurance through State Farm and someone, probably the defendant or someone on his behalf, notified State Farm of the accident shortly after it occurred. The letter from Hyde dated December 7, 2016 notified Massey Restoration Group of a potential claim for damages under Massey Restoration Group's insurance policy, not a potential claim under Hyde's own insurance.

It was just a coincidence that Massey Restoration Group and Hyde shared the same insurer. The Court of Appeal found that there is no authority that requires the insurer to refer the names of all parties involved in an accident to determine whether they also have insurance through the insurer. An insurer, on the other hand, has the right to rely on its contractual provisions.

Therefore, State Farm was not notified of Hide's potential claim under her insurance policy when Massey Restoration Group's State Farm agent received the copy of the December 7, 2016 letter. The letter dated December 7, 2016 to Massey Restoration Group did not provide the notice to State Farm required by Hyde's insurance.

Hyde claimed that her claim did not arise until it became clear that she was entitled to uninsured car insurance, which she claims was in March 2018 when the seriousness of her injuries began to manifest itself. Hyde's policy required otherwise. Notice was required "as soon as reasonably possible after the injured insured is first examined or treated for the injury." A general provision that no action will be taken against the insurer unless the insured has fully complied with the terms of the policy (contained in Hyde & # 39 ;s State Farm policy) is sufficient to create a term.

A notice of provision expressly made a condition. precedent for coverage is valid and must be followed, unless justified. If an insured has not shown justification for failure to notify in accordance with the terms of the insurance, the insurer is not obliged to provide either a defense or coverage.

Hyde argued that notice was only necessary as soon as reasonably possible after it became apparent that she was entitled to uninsured car insurance.

PURPOSE OF NOTIFICATION REQUIREMENTS

The purpose of a notice in an insurance policy is to allow the insurer to quickly investigate the facts of the incident and prepare a defense or determine if a settlement is feasible, while the facts are still new and witnesses are still available. Hide's apology for not realizing how seriously she was injured was for delaying the reporting of her uninsured motoring language failed because on December 7, 2016, her lawyer wrote the letter notifying Massey Restoration Group of Hide's potential uninsured motoring language.

Hide's 22-month delay in notifying State Farm was innocent and unreasonable by law.

Notice regulations are conditions in many states. Some will apply the advance damage rule to allow a late report to survive an allegation of material breach if they could show that the insurer was not harmed by the late report. In this case, although the rule of notification of prejudice was not mentioned, the facts clearly showed that a two-year delay deprived State Farm of the ability to thoroughly investigate the allegation, that Hyde knew she needed a UM or UIM claim because it was immediately reported to her employer. . She is not without a cure, her lawyer should have reported the potential for a UM / UIM claim on both State Farm policies.


© 2020 – Barry Zalma

Barry Zalma, Esq., CFE, now limits his practice of serving as an insurance consultant specializing in insurance coverage, insurance claims management, cheating and insurance fraud almost equally for insurance policyholders. He also acts as an arbitrator or mediator for insurance-related disputes. He practiced law in California for more than 44 years as an insurance coverage and claims lawyer and more than 52 years in the insurance industry. He is available at http://www.zalma.com and zalma@zalma.com.

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