Tag: insurance coverage

Legislature Responds to Louisiana Supreme Court Decision and Sets New Public Policy Regarding Insurance Coverage for Permissive Use of Non-Owned Vehicles

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.

When Buying a House with a Flooding History, Let the Buyer Beware

In Dunlap v. Empire Trading Group, LLC, the buyers of a home sued the seller and the seller’s real estate agent for fraud after the home flooded three times in the first year after they bought the home. The seller was a home-flipper who disclosed two prior flooding incidents, both of which occurred during the ten months the seller owned the home.

However, the plaintiffs later discovered the home had a substantial flooding history when they requested a flood insurance quote from the National Flood Insurance Program. The quote included a report that identified eighteen incidents of flooding and flood insurance claims at the property over the ten years before the plaintiffs purchased their home.

The plaintiffs argued the seller’s agent committed fraud because she concealed her knowledge of previous flood claims. The seller’s agent moved for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiffs could not prove that she knew about any of the prior undisclosed flooding incidents. The plaintiffs had no direct evidence to dispute the agent’s defense.

Instead, they argued that circumstantial evidence was sufficient to defeat the motion. They claimed that because the seller had a flood policy on the home, it also would have received the same flood claim history the plaintiffs received in connection with the same federal program. However, the plaintiffs had no evidence to show the seller, or anyone affiliated with the agent’s firm, actually received the flood claim history as they alleged.

Based upon these facts, the court agreed that without evidence that the seller’s agent actually received the flood claim history or otherwise had knowledge of it, the plaintiffs could not carry their burden of proving misrepresentation by the agent.

Case Reference: Dunlap v. Empire Trading Group, LLC, 2021-0180 (La. App. 1 Cir. 10/18/21), 331 So. 3d 932.