Md. Appeals Court Backs Insurer in PIP Waiver Case

August 3, 2004

A Maryland appeals court has upheld a 2003 circuit court decision by maintaining that personal injury protection (PIP) waivers remain effective until withdrawn in writing. The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) filed an amicus brief on behalf of the insurer defendant.

“In its July 23 ruling, the appeals court clearly supports a signed PIP waiver over the assertion of the plaintiff,” Robert Hurns, legislative database manager and counsel for PCI, said. “It’s another victory for the validity of insurance contracts.”

In the original case, a GEICO policyholder injured in a 2003 auto accident attempted to recover PIP benefits. GEICO rejected the claim because the plaintiff had reportedly signed a PIP waiver in 1998. The plaintiff claimed the waiver was invalid because he had since signed a policy with new terms and conditions.

However, at the circuit court trial, which the plaintiff did not attend, the GEICO underwriting and sales manager reportedly testified the updated policy included two pages of information about PIP coverage, and that the plaintiff had signed off on the policy. There was reportedly no evidence the plaintiff had notified GEICO in writing or otherwise that he intended to revoke his PIP waiver, or that he sought to obtain PIP coverage after he signed the additional waiver. The circuit court entered judgment in favor of GEICO and the plaintiff appealed.

In its written opinion, the appeals court cited case history and the state insurance code in supporting both GEICO’s coverage decision and the legitimacy of the PIP waiver, which was reportedly fully approved by the insurance division.

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