In Skaperdas, the plaintiff Steven Skaperdas applied for a new automobile insurance policy from a Country Casualty Insurance agent. Mr. Skaperdas requested that the policy cover his fiance Valerie Day. However, the agent failed to name Ms. Day on the policy but did list the driver has "female" in the declarations page. Subsequently, Ms. Day's minor son was seriously injured when an automobile struck him while he was riding his bicycle. The offending automobile driver's policy did not cover all of the boy's medical expenses so Ms. Day sought to recover funds from the underinsured motorist coverage on the new policy with Mr. Skaperdas. Country Casualty denied Ms. Day's claim for underinsured motorist coverage stating that neither she nor her son are named insureds under the policy. Skaperdas, 2015 IL 117201, paragraph 5. In response, the couple filed a lawsuit against the insurance agent and Country Casualty, claiming the agent was negligent in failing to name Ms. Day under the policy. In support of their claim, the couple contended that the agent owed them a duty to exercise ordinary care and skill in renewing, procuring, binding and placing the requested insurance coverage as required by section 2-2201 of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5/2-2201 (West 2010)).
The trial court in Champaign County dismissed the couple's lawsuit, finding that the insurance agent did not owe the couple a duty to include Ms. Day's name on the policy. On appeal, the court looked to the plain language of section 2-2201 along with section 500-10 of the Illinois Insurance Code (215 ILCS 5/500-10 (West 2010)) which establishes that "any person required to be licensed to sell, solicit or negotiate insurance has a duty to exercise ordinary care in procuring insurance." Based on these statutes, the appellate court reversed the decision of the trial court and found that the insurance agent owed Ms. Day a duty to include her in the policy when Mr. Skaperdas specifically requested that she be named in the policy.
In affirming the decision of the appellate court, the Illinois Supreme Court found that the plain meaning of the statutes supports the finding that the insurance agent owed the plaintiffs a duty of care to properly insert Ms. Day into the insurance policy as a name insured. In its analysis of section 2-2201, the court found that the legislature intended to include an insurance agent as an "insurance producer" under the statute, therefore, the agent owes the plaintiffs a duty of care. In addition, the fact the agent listed the driver as female is evidence that supports Mr. Skaperdas's claim that he requested the agent to insert Ms. Day in the policy. As a result, Country Casualty must provide underinsured motorist coverage to Ms. Day and her son.
What does this mean? This means that when you apply or renew your automobile insurance policy and request that certain individuals are covered by the policy, the insurance agent has a duty to make sure those individuals are named in the policy. So if the insurance agent fails to include your spouse, after you specifically request that the policy includes your spouse, your spouse may still be covered under the policy.
Insurance policies and the law governing these policies are complicated. To ensure that you and your family are covered and receiving all the requested types of coverage, attorney Anthony Gordon will be happy to review all of your insurance policies. Click the contact button above to make an appointment with attorney Gordon.