The Illinois Appellate Court recently held that auto insurance carriers cannot exclude uninsured motorist coverage for bicyclists and pedestrians. Uninsured motorist coverage provides coverage for damages caused by an uninsured at-fault driver. In Illinois, liability insurance automatically includes uninsured motorist coverage. Before this Illinois Appellate Court case, many auto insurance carriers denied uninsured motorist coverage for pedestrians and bicyclists who were injured by a motor vehicle.
The court heard two consolidated cases in Galarza v. Direct Auto Insurance Co., which each involved a provision in the automobile insurance policy that limited uninsured motorist coverage to insureds occupying an ‘insured automobile.’ The court held that these provisions violated section 143a of the Illinois Insurance Code, thus making the provision unenforceable and against public policy.
In the first case, Carmen Galarza was struck by a vehicle while walking out of a store. The driver of the vehicle left the scene. Galarza started an uninsured motorist claim with her insurance, Direct Auto Insurance. Direct Auto notified Galarza that she was not covered for this incident because she was not occupying an ‘insured automobile’ at the time.
In the second case, Fredy Guiracocha’s son was struck by a vehicle while riding his bicycle. The driver fled the scene. Fredy filed an uninsured motorist claim with his insurance, Direct Auto Insurance, on behalf of his son as a relative under the policy. Direct Auto denied coverage, stating the son was not an occupant of an insured vehicle at the time.
The court in their reasoning discussed section 143a of the Illinois Insurance Code, noting that uninsured coverage “must extend to all who are insured under the policy’s liability provisions.” The court further noted “if a person constitutes an insured for purposes of liability coverage under a policy, the insurance company may not, either directly or indirectly, deny uninsured-motorist coverage to that person.” Schultz v. Illinois Farmers Insurance Company, 237 Ill. 2d 391 (Ill. 2010).
The court found that Direct Auto Insurance’s liability policy directly conflicted with the Illinois Insurance Code, as it effectively denied any claims filed by a pedestrian injured by a motor vehicle.
If you are a pedestrian or a bicyclist who was injured by an uninsured driver, Shifrin Law Group can help fight for you to get the compensation you deserve. Please contact Shifrin Law Group today for a free consultation.