Imagine you are visiting family during the holidays. As a favor, you take a family member’s vehicle to the gas station for a fill-up. While in transit, you get into an accident where you are at fault. Does your insurance policy provide coverage for the accident?
According to La. R.S. 22:1296.1, a new statute that went into effect on August 1, 2022, the answer to this question is “yes,” your insurance may afford coverage under these facts.
La. R.S. 22:1296.1 now requires insurance policies issued in Louisiana to provide coverage when the driver insured under the policy operates a non-owned vehicle with the express or implied permission of the vehicle’s owner. The statue was enacted to declare a new public policy regarding this issue and was passed in response to the Louisiana Supreme Court’s decision in Landry v. Progressive Security Insurance Company, 2021-00621 (La. 1/28/22), reh’g denied, 2021-00621 (La. 3/25/22); 338 So.3d 1162.
The Landry case involved a motor vehicle accident that occurred as the defendant-driver, as a favor to the vehicle’s owner, drove the vehicle to a tire shop to repair a tire. The plaintiffs brought an action against the defendant-driver, the driver’s insurer, and the insurer of the vehicle that he drove at the time of the collision.
The Louisiana Supreme Court upheld a provision in the driver’s policy that stated coverage under such circumstances was only available when the driver’s own vehicle was out of service. Because the driver’s vehicle was not out of service, no coverage was found under the driver’s policy. In so holding, the Landry court found that public policy did not require automobile insurance liability coverage for a driver’s negligent operation of a non-owned vehicle.
The Louisiana legislature enacted La. R.S. 22:1296.1 in response to the Landry decision. The statute provides that an insurer writing automobile liability, uninsured, underinsured, or medical payments coverage shall not exclude the benefits of such coverage under its policy to an insured operating a non-owned vehicle if all of the following requirements are satisfied:
- The coverage is in full force and effect.
- The insured is operating a vehicle owned by another with the express or implied permission of the vehicle’s owner.
- The non-owned vehicle that is being operated by the insured is not provided, furnished, or available to the insured on a regular basis.
The statute also provides this coverage is secondary to the vehicle owner’s insurance policy. Furthermore, if the coverage provided under the statute is included within the coverage provided pursuant to La. R.S. 22:1296, which addresses coverage for temporary, substitute, and rental vehicles, the provisions of La. R.S. 22:1296 determine which coverage is primary. (For additional information regarding La. R.S. 22:1296 click here.) [Sophia, please include link to blog from 5/25/22].
Let’s return to real life scenarios like those we addressed above. Perhaps you are blocked in at a party, so a friend tosses you the keys to move their car, or, like the situation in Landry, maybe you are trying to do a good deed by driving your parents’ car to a gas station for a fill-up when an accident occurs. While it remains to be seen how courts will interpret this statute in these circumstances, under the new legislation, these actions may now implicate coverage under your insurance policy.
Case Reference: Landry v. Progressive Security Insurance Company, 2021-00621 (La. 1/28/22), reh’g denied, 2021-00621 (La. 3/25/22); 338 So.3d 1162.