Accident Caused By Driver Not Reported To Insurer Not Covered

Accident Caused By Driver Not Reported To Insurer Not CoveredAn accident in November 2006 involved two vehicles. Joel Mons drove the vehicle that Galloway Heavy Hauling, Inc. (Galloway) owned. Telemundo Television Studios, LLC (Telemundo) owned the other.

After the accident, Telemundo filed a claim with Aequicap Insurance Company (Aequicap), Galloway’s automobile insurer.

Aequicap brought an action for declaratory judgment that sought to establish that its policy did not provide coverage for an accident that occurred while an insured vehicle was operated by a driver that had not been reported to (and approved by) Aequicap.

The Aequicap insurance policy had an endorsement that stated the following:

No coverage will apply to any driver newly placed in service after this policy begins until you report that driver to us and we advise you in writing that he/she is acceptable to us and that he/she is covered under the policy. Coverage on any such driver newly placed in service will become effective as of the date and time we advise you that he/she is acceptable and that they are covered by the policy and not before… Only such drivers listed as of the [sic] date that this policy begins, on the schedule in the original application signed by you, and not otherwise excluded are covered as of the date this policy begins.

Another endorsement on the policy stated the following:

All additional drivers must be reported to the insurance company and approved prior to operation of any insured unit. A Motor Vehicle Report (MVR) will be ordered and reviewed and insured will be notified of the acceptability of additional drivers.

The Circuit Court, Miami-Dade County awarded summary judgment to Aequicap. Telemundo appealed.

The appellate court noted that insurance policy language that is clear and unambiguous must be construed to mean what it says and nothing more. It stated that an insured’s “failure to comply with the requirements of the policy is fatal to its claim that the truck was insured because courts do not have the power to create insurance coverage, if it does not otherwise exist by the policy’s terms.”

It further stated that Aequicap’s policy was clear and unambiguous in stating that all drivers must be reported to the insurer. In this case, the policy did not afford coverage for the accident that involved Mons, the non-disclosed driver.

The appellate court held that the trial court properly granted summary judgment in Aequicap’s favor and affirmed its decision.

District Court of Appeal of Florida, Third District. Telemundo Television Studios, LLC, Appellant, v. Aequicap Insurance Company, Appellee. No. 3D09-1961. June 16, 2010. 38 So.3d 807

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