RANDALL D. KISER v. IAN J. WOLFE & CONSUMERS INSURANCE COMPANY (Tenn. Ct. App. May 28, 2010)
This interlocutory appeal considers an issue of uninsured motorist coverage following an automobile accident in which Plaintiff Randall D. Kiser was permanently injured. The plaintiff was working within the scope of his employment, driving for a towing company, when his truck was struck by Defendant Ian J. Wolfe's vehicle. The defendant driver tendered his liability policy limits to the plaintiff and is not a party to this appeal. The employer towing company was insured by Defendant Consumers Insurance Company. In anticipation of arbitration for determination of damages and liability, the insurance company moved for partial summary judgment.
The trial court denied summary judgment but granted the insurance company permission for an interlocutory appeal to determine two issues, on which we hold:
(1) On a policy of vehicle insurance, the statutory requirement of Tenn. Code Ann. section 56-7-1201(a)(2) for a written rejection of uninsured/underinsured motorist benefits or written selection of uninsured/underinsured motorist benefits lower than liability limits is met when the insured signs an application containing a lower selection but neglects to initial a block provided for that purpose; and
(2) the insurer bears the burden of proof to show that the insured signed an insurance contract application containing a stated limit of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, but once that burden has been met, the insured must raise any issue that the insurer obtained the insured's signature unlawfully under Tenn. Code Ann. section 56-7-1201(a)(2).
We vacate the trial court's denial of the insurance company's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment and remand for reconsideration in light of this holding.
Opinion may be found at: