MAY 2013 BAD FAITH CASES: COURT RULES THAT CARRIER HAS NO DUTY TO NOTIFY INSURED OF PROVISION IN POLICY FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF LOST WAGES AND TRAVEL EXPENSES (Superior Court)
In Albert v. Erie Ins. Exch., an insured appealed a decision of the trial court that granted the carrier’s motion to dismiss the insured’s claims. Specifically, the insured claimed that the carrier’s failure to reimburse her for lost wages and travel expenses, which the insured incurred when she attended a deposition in connection to a civil action against her, constituted a breach of contract and bad faith.
This action began when the insured was involved in an automobile accident and a lawsuit was filed against her. The insured’s carrier tendered a defense and requested that the insured appear for a deposition. After the carrier refused to reimburse the insured for lost wages and travel expenses, she filed suit. The trial court dismissed the suit.
On appeal, the appellate court ruled that the trial court properly dismissed the insured’s breach of contract and bad faith suit. It reasoned that the insured never alleged that she made a claim to the carrier for reimbursement of her expenses. Moreover, the court reasoned that the carrier could not be held liable for breach of contract because, under the policy, the insured was required to give notice of the need for reimbursement. The court also refused to find that the carrier had an implied duty to inform insureds of the ability to seek reimbursement.
As such, the appellate court affirmed the trial court’s holding and ruled that the lower court was correct to dismiss the suit, as there was no breach of contract or bad faith.
The dissenting opinion agreed that a finding of no bad faith was appropriate, but would have found that the insured was not required to notify its carrier of the need for reimbursement.