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Rush v. Erie Ins. Exch., 2024 Pa. LEXIS 123 (January 29, 2024) (Donohue, J.).

This appeal requires the Court to determine whether a “regular use” exclusion contained in a motor vehicle insurance policy violates the express language of the Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law (“MVFRL”). We hold that as presented in this case, the “regular use” exclusion does not violate the MVFRL. Thus, we reverse the order of the Superior Court.

Matthew Rush is a detective for the City of Easton (“City”). On November 28, 2015, Rush sustained serious injuries following a motor vehicle accident in which two drivers crashed into his unmarked 2010 Ford Fusion police car (“Ford”). The Ford was owned by the City’s police department and was insured under the City’s Business Auto Policy/Fleet Auto Policy issued by Travelers Insurance (“City’s Policy”), providing for, inter alia, $35,000 in underinsured motorist coverage (“UIM”).

Rush and his wife (collectively, the “Insureds”) owned three personal vehicles on two insurance policies through Erie Insurance (“Erie”). The Insureds paid for stacked UIM coverage on both policies (“Erie Policies”). The first policy provided for $250,000 of UIM coverage on one vehicle and the second policy provided for $250,000 of UIM coverage stacked on the other two vehicles. The Erie Policies both included identical “regular use” exclusion clauses, which limited the scope of UIM coverage under the policies.

The parties have agreed that the Insureds did not own or insure the Ford on their Erie Policies, and that Rush regularly used the car for work.

The insurance companies for the other drivers and the City provided Insureds with their policy limits. However, because Rush’s injuries and damages exceeded the liability insurance limits of the tortfeasors and the UIM coverage limits of the City’s Policy, the Insureds subsequently filed a claim for UIM benefits under the Erie Policies. Erie denied coverage based on the “regular use” exclusion.

The question is whether the “regular use” exclusion in a motor vehicle policy violates the express terms of the MVFRL. There is no doubt that under both Burstein and Williams, the “regular use” exclusion is permitted under the law. Burstein v. Prudential Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co., 570 Pa. 177, 809 A.2d 204 (Pa. 2022) and Williams v. GEICO Gov’t Emps. Ins. Co., 613 Pa. 113, 32 A.3d 1195 (Pa. 2011).

To conclude, the court is bound by its decision in Burstein and Williams in upholding the “regular use” exclusion as a permissible limitation of UIM coverage. Accordingly, the Superior Court’s conclusion that the “regular use” exclusion violates the language of the MVFRL is erroneous. Thus, the court held that the “regular use” exclusion in the insurer’s insurance policy is valid and enforceable and the Superior Court is reversed. Justices Todd and Dougherty join in the opinion. Justice Wecht filed a concurring opinion. Mundy and Brobson did not participate. Justice Wecht said he would remand to Superior Court for consideration of the § 1738 issue. Justice Wecht said that the majority decision is narrow. The decision merely held that the Superior Court’s interpretation of 1731 was incorrect. The majority does not meaningfully address the trial court’s conclusion that the regular-use exclusion violates 1738 under the reasoning of Gallagher v. GEICO Indemnity Co., 650 Pa. 600, 201 A.3d 131 (Pa. 2019).