Founders Ins. Co. v. Gurung, 2017-Ohio-8983 (December 13, 2017)

Exclusion for operator in violation of his driving conditions was held enforceable.

The Ohio Ninth District Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment for the insurer, finding that a driver operating a vehicle with a temporary permit, but no licensed driver in the vehicle, was not entitled to insurance coverage under the policy. This case involved a declaratory judgment action filed by the insurer which sought a determination that its “valid driver’s license” provision for a driver operating a vehicle under a learner’s permit, without a licensed operator in the vehicle, was enforceable. The policy contained a provision stating, “‘valid driver’s license’ no coverage is afforded under any part of this policy if, at any time of the accident, your insured car or temporary substitute car is being operated by a person who . . . is in violation of any conditions of their driving privileges.” The vehicle was being operated by a driver who had a temporary permit. He had passengers in the vehicle, none of whom had a valid driver’s license. Ohio law requires a person with a learner’s permit to have a licensed driver seated in the front seat next to the driver while the vehicle is being operated by the learner. The insured argued that the driving privileges provision was not enforceable since he was not cited for any violation of his learner’s permit and did not have an opportunity to argue the issue in a criminal or traffic court proceeding. The Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment for the insurer, finding that the driver had admitted that there was no licensed driver in the vehicle and he was operating the vehicle in violation of his driving privileges. The Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment in favor of the insurer, finding that no coverage existed. The case is most notable for a very thorough discussion of the law on interpretation of insurance contracts in Ohio and a review of Ohio Supreme Court precedent on these issues. A discretionary appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court was not allowed. 



Case Law Alerts, 4th Quarter, October 2018

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