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American Southern Home Insurance Co. v. Lentini

Supreme Court of Florida

December 19, 2019

AMERICAN SOUTHERN HOME INSURANCE COMPANY, Petitioner,
v.
LOUIS PHILIP LENTINI, etc., Respondent.

         NOT FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE REHEARING MOTION AND, IF FILED, DETERMINED.

          Application for Review of the Decision of the District Court of Appeal - Certified Direct Conflict of Decisions Fifth District - Case No. 5D17-326 (Hernando County)

          Raoul G. Cantero, David P. Draigh, and Zachary B. Dickens of White & Case LLP, Miami, Florida; and Andrew E. Grigsby of Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP, Coral Gables, Florida, for Petitioner

          John N. Bogdanoff and Christopher V. Carlyle of The Carlyle Appellate Law Firm, Orlando, Florida; and Anthony T. Martino of Clark & Martino, P.A., Tampa, Florida, for Respondent

          POLSTON, J.

         American Southern Home Insurance Company seeks review of the decision of the Fifth District Court of Appeal in Lentini v. American Southern Home Insurance Co., 233 So.3d 1258 (Fla. 5th DCA 2017), which was certified to be in direct conflict with the decision of the Second District Court of Appeal in Martin v. St. Paul Fire & Marine Insurance Co., 670 So.2d 997 (Fla. 2d DCA 1996).[1] The issue before this Court is whether an insurer that issues a reduced premium collector vehicle policy may limit uninsured motorist coverage under that specialty policy to accidents involving the occupancy or use of the collector vehicle.[2] As explained below, we hold that the requirements of section 627.727, Florida Statutes (2015), prohibit the limitations placed on uninsured motorist coverage in the collector vehicle policy at issue. Therefore, we approve the decision of the Fifth District in Lentini and disapprove the decision of the Second District in Martin.

         BACKGROUND

         This case arises out of an automobile accident in which Michael Lentini was operating his motorcycle when involved in a fatal accident. Lentini's estate sought uninsured motorist benefits under his American Southern Home Insurance Company ("American Southern") policy issued on a 1992 Corvette collector vehicle. The Corvette policy contains a provision that limits uninsured motorist coverage to accidents involving the covered collector vehicle.

         After American Southern denied coverage, the estate sued. The trial court, relying on the conclusion of the Second District in Martin, entered summary judgment in favor of American Southern. On appeal, the estate argued that Martin was erroneously decided and that American Southern limited Lentini's uninsured motorist coverage impermissibly under section 627.727. The Fifth District reversed the trial court's grant of summary judgment, concluding that the collector vehicle policy must and did not comply with the statutory mandates of section 627.727(9).

         ANALYSIS

         American Southern contends that section 627.727 does not apply to specialty insurance policies such as the Corvette policy at issue. We disagree. Section 626.727 governs "motor vehicle insurance; uninsured and underinsured vehicle coverage; [and] insolvent insurer protection." It provides as follows:

No motor vehicle liability insurance policy which provides bodily injury liability coverage shall be delivered or issued for delivery in this state with respect to any specifically insured or identified motor vehicle registered or principally garaged in this state unless uninsured motor vehicle coverage is provided therein or supplemental thereto for the protection of persons insured thereunder who are legally entitled to recover damages from owners or operators of uninsured motor vehicles because of bodily injury, sickness, or disease, including death, resulting therefrom. However, the coverage required under this section is not applicable when, or to the extent that, an insured named in the policy makes a written rejection of the coverage on behalf of all insureds under the policy.

§ 627.727(1), Fla. Stat. (2015). "[S]ection 627.727(9) provides that an insurer may offer non-stacking coverage provided that the insurer informs the insured of the limitations of such coverage and the insured executes an approved form expressly electing non-stacking coverage." Travelers Commercial Ins. Co. v. Harrington, 154 So.3d 1106, 1113 (Fla. 2014). Specifically, subsection (9) permits insurers to offer policies with limitations on uninsured motorist coverage as follows:

(9) Insurers may offer policies of uninsured motorist coverage containing policy provisions, in language approved by the office, establishing that if the insured accepts this offer:
(a) The coverage provided as to two or more motor vehicles shall not be added together to determine the limit of insurance coverage available to an injured person for any one ...

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