Nationwide Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co. v. Castaneda, 2022 Pa. Dist. & Cnty. Dec. LEXIS 936 (C.P. Dauphin July 14, 2022) (McNally, J.) In this matter, the Automobile Insurer seeks that this Court grant judgment in its favor and issue a decree finding that it is not obligated, under an Automobile Policy issued to its Policyholder, to provide first party medical benefits to the Policyholder’s daughter because she was an unlicensed driver driving her mother’s vehicle at the time of the accident. The Driver, who has filed a counterclaim on her own behalf and on behalf of a putative class of similarly situated drivers, seeks partial summary judgment declaring that the Insurer’s denial of first party medical benefits under the Policy’s “Unlicensed Driver Exclusion” is void as against public policy. The Driver additionally seeks, on her own behalf and on behalf of the putative class, compensatory relief in the form of first party benefits, interest, attorneys’ fees, costs and treble damages. For the reasons set forth below, this Court finds that the Insurer is not obligated to pay first party medical benefits to the Driver and thus grants judgment in favor of the Insurer and dismisses the Driver’s claims. In conclusion, this Court agrees with Nationwide that there is no dispute that its denial of first party medical benefits to the Driver falls within the unambiguous scope of Unlicensed Driver Exclusion. Furthermore, this Court finds that MVFRL Section 1718 does not create an exhaustive list of reasons an insurer may cite to exclude first party medical benefits but is rather only one pronouncement of a number of permissible exclusions found in the MVFRL and common law. Finally, the Unlicensed Driver Exclusion also does not violate the public policy of this Commonwealth, which is embodied by the MVFRL and court decisions interpreting its application. Because this Court is granting judgment in Nationwide’s favor, this Court need not address the Driver’s counterclaim requesting attorneys’ fees, interest and treble damages under MVFRL Sections 1716 and 1797(b), which rely upon a finding that the Driver has a valid claim under the Policy for first party medical benefits.
Nationwide Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co. v. Castaneda, 2022 Pa. Dist. & Cnty. Dec. LEXIS 936 (C.P. Dauphin July 14, 2022) (McNally, J.)