Presented by the Insurance Service Practice Group

Pennsylvania Superior Court Addresses Stacking Waivers in Single Vehicle Policies

In Erie Ins. Exchange v. Backmeier, __A.3d__, 2022 Pa. Super. 221, the Pennsylvania Superior Court applied Pennsylvania Supreme Court precedent to determine that an insured’s waiver of stacking, executed on two single vehicle policies when issued, precluded inter-policy stacking of underinsured motorist benefits at the second priority level. Additionally, the court enforced the policies’ limit of protection to the highest applicable limit of liability under any one policy.

Andrew Backmeier was tragically struck and killed by an underinsured motorist while riding his bicycle. His mother sought underinsured coverage pursuant to her two Erie policies that provided limits of $100,000 per person, unstacked. Both policies provided coverage at the second priority level under the MVFRL because they covered vehicles not involved in the accident. Erie filed a declaratory judgment action seeking a declaration that the Backmeier’s Estate’s recovery was limited to $100,000, as the Estate sought $200,000 and claimed that inter-policy stacking had not been waived on the two policies that covered only single vehicles. The Superior Court affirmed the trial court’s judgment for Erie. It applied existing precedent to conclude that the stacking waivers were valid since they were executed at the inception of the single vehicle policies, and no meaning other than waiver of inter-policy stacking could be ascribed to the waivers. Moreover, the limit of protection clause was not violative of the MVFRL because it limited recovery at the same level based upon a knowing waiver of stacking. 

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