Willis v Swain - Basic UM is required in HJUP policies
Personal Injury News Items
A recent Hawaii Supreme Court case appears to generally require the existence of basic UM (Uninsured Motorist) coverage in HJUP (Hawaii Joint Underwriting Program) auto policies. See, Willis v. Swain, Hawaii Supreme Court No. 25992 (October 26, 2006). In that case the HJUP insurer (First Insurance) argued that HJUP policies are not required to include UM coverage. In addition First Insurance also asserted that, even if HJUP policies generally must include UM coverage, that their letter sent with the policy stating "[i]f you desire ... [UM] ... coverage ... , contact an insurance agent to assist you in obtaining these coverages upon payment of the appropriate premium..." was sufficient to constitute an offer of UM coverage and the insured was deemed to have rejected such coverage if the insured took no action after receiving such a letter. The Hawaii Supreme Court rejected those positions and stated that the letter was at most an invitation to initiate negotiation, not an offer. Furthermore, since the coverage had not been properly offered and refused, Willis's HJUP policy automatically included UM coverage by operation of law and she was entitled to assert her UM claim against First Insurance.
Game Truck Georgia was recently hit with a $4.7 million judgment for injuries arising out of a game of "bubble soccer". But this was after they had pleaded with their insurer to settle those same claims for a pretrial offer of $1 million - which was within their policy limits. Their insurer, Atlantic Specialty Insurance, declined those offers and forced the case to trial. Now the attorneys for Game Truck Georgia are chasing their own insurance company for its bad faith refusal to settle - a refusal which led to the insolvency and desctruction of their business.
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