APPLICATION OF OKLAHOMA’S UNINSURED MOTORIST STATUTE MAY DEPEND UPON THE WORDING OF THE INSURANCE POLICY AT ISSUE

APPLICATION OF OKLAHOMA’S UNINSURED MOTORIST STATUTE MAY DEPEND UPON THE WORDING OF THE INSURANCE POLICY AT ISSUE

Leritz v. Farmers Insurance Company, 2016 OK 79

Leritz is a case recently decided by the Oklahoma Supreme Court.*A Kansas resident was injured when his motorcycle collided with a car in Oklahoma. He sought to stack uninsured motorist coverage based on his three Kansas policies. The trial court granted the insurer’s motion for summary judgment applying Kansas law, which prohibits stacking, to resolve a perceived conflict of laws. The Court of Civil Appeals affirmed.The Oklahoma Supreme Court reversed and remanded.

In a 6-3 divided decision adverse to the insurer, the majority of the Oklahoma Supreme Court interpreted the policy language to require application of a pre-2014 Oklahoma uninsured motorist statute(which allowed stacking) to the case. Interestingly, as the minority opinion pointed out, the holding of the Court appeared to be in contradiction to existing Oklahoma case law in Bernal v. Charter County Mutual Insurance Company, where the Oklahoma Supreme Court determined that Oklahoma’s uninsured motorist statute could not be applied to policies with zero connection to the state. 2009 OK 28.This case provides yet another example of the importance of careful drafting, and periodic review for any needed modification, of policy language by insurers. You may find a copy of the opinion at:
http://www.oscn.net/applications/oscn/DeliverDocument.asp?CiteID=478397

Please contact Moreau Law Firm with any questions.

*Note that the opinion has not been released for publication. Until released, it is subject to revision or withdrawal.

Copyright © 2016 Moreau Law Firm. All rights reserved.

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