Oliver Wendell Holmes, the former US Supreme Court Justice, once said that “Where we love is home, home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.” If you ask most Hoosiers, they will tell you that home is where they grew up and where their friends and family reside. However, insurance companies have recently been trying to redefine in their insurance contracts where the home is in an attempt to exclude people from receiving insurance coverage. Our office recently dealt with this situation when an insurance company filed a motion to have the court determine whether one of our clients should not be covered by the insurance contract because she was not a family member who “resides primarily” at her parent’s house.
The insurance company, who admitted that our client was the daughter of the named insureds on the policy, argued in its motion that although the client fit the description of “family member” under the terms of the policy, she was still not covered by the insurance contract because she did not primarily reside in the house that she grew up in with her parents in Ohio. Our client had moved to Indiana to pursue a career and brought her young daughter along with her, but admittedly was still relying on her parents despite moving to gain some independence. It was undisputed that our client still had her own room at her parents’ house along with clothes and other personal items, all of her important mail went to the house in Ohio, that she still had an Ohio driver’s license, that her mother would help take care of the daughter any time the two returned to Ohio, she would travel to Ohio roughly every other month for at least four nights a week, our client and her daughter would spend Fall break, Spring break, Summer break, and Winter break all in Ohio, and that ultimately when it was feasible for our client and her daughter to be home in Ohio, they made the almost five hour drive in order to be home surrounded by friends and family.
Despite our client testifying to all the facts above, the insurance company began an exhaustive investigation into the claim in an attempt to try and find reasons to deny coverage. What the insurance company and their lawyers came up with was to argue that our client did not “reside primarily” at the residence in Ohio because she had lived and worked in Indiana for almost two years, she received her medical treatment in Indianapolis, and because our client had temporarily lived at several different addresses here in Indiana. Instead of simply paying on the claim, the insurance company harassed our client with demands for her to turn over her bank statements and tax returns, attempts to use her previous social media posts against her, and entirely false accusations that the client and her parents were deceptive towards the insurance company.
The insurance company’s shenanigans were put to an abrupt end by Attorney Reid Nahmias, who not only staunchly protected our client’s rights by opposing the insurance company’s demands for sensitive documentation, but also fought back against the insurance company’s baseless allegations by filing before the court a motion for summary judgment to determine that the client was covered under the policy as someone who primarily resided at her parent’s home in Ohio. In his motion, Reid argued that the Court of Appeals of Indiana had already decided this issue in a case called Grange Mutual Casualty Co. v. Estate of Stephen Stetz, 92 N.E.3d 676 (Ind. Ct. App. 2018). In Grange, the appellate court found that a young man who was struck and killed as a pedestrian in South Bend was entitled to uninsured motorist coverage under his parent’s insurance policy despite the fact that he had moved to Chicago for work while his parents still resided in his childhood home in Ohio. The appellate court found that Grange’s insurance policy was ambiguous, and the fact that the young man drove a parent-owned car while in Chicago, still had an Ohio driver’s license, that he visited his parents fairly often, that he kept many clothes and toiletries at his parent’s home in Ohio, and other factors established the parent’s house as his “primary residence’ which entitled him to coverage under the policy.
By using the Grange case above to argue that the insurance company’s insurance policy was also ambiguous, Reid was able to convince the court in our client’s case that coverage must be extended. As a result, the court granted summary judgment in favor of our client and found that the insurance comapny must cover our client’s claim for uninsured motorist benefits.
The situation faced by our client in this case is one that is all too common when dealing with insurance companies today. If you or someone you know is either being harassed by an insurance company or is thinking of making an insurance claim, the auto accident attorneys at the Law Offices of William W. Hurst, LLC, are dedicated to fighting for your rights no matter how aggressive the insurance company’s lawyers are. Feel free to call us at 317-636-0808 or visit us online for a free consultation.