A five-year lease is not temporary

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This case involves an insurance dispute in which Plaintiff, Benjamin G. Dusing (Dusing), claims that a 2016 leased Mercedes was properly insured by Appellee, Metropolitan Property & Casualty Insurance Company (Metropolitan). Metropolitan denies the delivery of the vehicle, which was destroyed by fire on June 25, 2016.

In Benjamin G. Dusing v. Metropolitan Property & Casualty Insurance Company, no. 2021-CA-0200-MR, Court of Appeals of Kentucky (August 26, 2022) Dusing said he was driving the car at the time it caught fire. Due to Metropolitan’s refusal to pay Dusing was sued in Kenton Circuit Court on June 21, 2017. The court later granted Metropolitan’s so-called “Motion for Judgment”, as there was no issue related to Metropolitan’s policies. insurance is Metropolitan (here, Policy).

A motion for summary judgment must be filed if the pleadings, briefs, interrogatories, pleadings, and affidavits on file, along with supporting documents, if any, show that there is no genuine issue of any fact and that the moving party. they have the right to be judged according to the law.

THE PLAN

The process involved here has the following principles:

We will pay you for the loss of your covered or non-owned vehicle, including its accessories, that was not caused by a collision, less any expenses shown in the Declarations. The value is included in the loss caused by the following:

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  1. Fire, explosion or earthquake. . . .

The policy defines “non-owned vehicle” as follows:

  1. a vehicle or trailer while being used by you or a family member, with the owner’s permission, that is not owned, given, or provided for the regular use of you or anyone living in your household.

2. a commercial rental car or trailer for temporary use by you or a family member.

In ruling in favor of Metropolitan, the district court ruled as follows:

On March 31, 2016, BGD Law, a law firm of [Dusing] leased a 2016 Mercedes for five years or 60,000 miles. The lease also offered a 24 month contract. The lessee also paid BGD Law fees for the license and registration of the vehicle.

Dusing insisted that he is entitled to receive compensation for the loss of the Mercedes 2016, saying that the car was a “non-car” under the policy. In response Metropolitan takes the position that Mercedes 2016 could not be a “free” car for several reasons.

  1. The 2016 Mercedes wasn’t offered for a while, but it was the subject of a 5-year, 60,000-mile, 24-month service contract.
  2. Metropolitan says the car was “not commercially rented.” Unlike the rental agreement, the 2016 Mercedes was delivered to BGD Law and charged license and registration fees that are not legal for “rental” vehicles. After reviewing the evidence in this case and considering the parties’ Briefs, the Court agrees with Metropolitan’s contention that the 2016 Mercedes was not a “defunct” vehicle that would be eligible for coverage under the policy issued in 2015. In short, there is no loss coverage for this vehicle under Metropolitan’s policy.

It is undisputed that Dusing failed to purchase insurance for the 2016 Mercedes. Therefore, it is not a “covered vehicle” under this Policy which, to put it simply, is Dusing’s Personal Policy.

The Court of Appeal was right to agree with the trial court that a five-year rental car cannot be considered “empty” for the purposes of the Policy. Indeed, it beggars belief that the 2016 Mercedes at issue here is a “rental car” used “temporarily,” as it was borrowed by Dusing’s law firm. Therefore, it was not appropriate to say that Dusing had a “reasonable expectation” of publication.

ZALMA’s opinion

This case is an example of a lawyer trying to force an insured to pay for what they know, or should have known, was not covered by their car insurance policy. A car borrowed by his law firm and given to him for use is not a personal car, a five-year lease cannot be considered “temporary” in any sense, and must be insured by the law firm that leased it. Despite his interest in the Mercedes he failed to advise the insurer that it was borrowed for use and did not pay the maintenance fees. Taking this case to the Court of Appeal was a waste of time, the time of the trial court and the time of the Court of Appeal.

(c) 2022 Barry Zalma & ClaimSchool, Inc.

Barry Zalma, Esq., CFE, now narrows his practice to an insurance consultant specializing in insurance coverage, insurance litigation, insurance bad faith and insurance fraud for both insurers and policyholders alike. . He has practiced law in California for over 44 years as an insurance and claims attorney and over 54 years in the insurance business. He can be reached at zalma@zalma.com.

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About Barry Zalma

Underwriting is an experienced attorney, consultant and witness with over 48 years of courtroom experience.