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Erie Ins. Exch. v. Eachus, 2023 Pa. Super. LEXIS 601, 2023 WL 8588845 (December 12, 2023) (Sullivan, J.).

The court said there was no ambiguity in the request for lower limits associated with the Erie Insurance binder application. Since there was not a request for lower limits at any time and a lower premium was paid, Eachus is stuck with his sign-down.

Dominic Eachus (“Eachus”) appeals from the order granting the motion for summary judgment filed by Erie Insurance Exchange (“Erie”) and denying Eachus’s cross-motion for summary judgment. We affirm.

On January 13, 2011, Eachus contacted his insurance agent and requested a quote for a new auto policy. On that same date, the agent provided Eachus with a quote for an auto policy from Erie which provided, inter alia, uninsured motorist coverage (“UM”) and underinsured motorist coverage (“UIM”) policy limits of $15,000 per person/$30,000 per accident. Later that same day, Eachus signed a policy application for an auto policy from Erie, effective January 20, 2011 through January 20, 2012, providing bodily injury liability limits in the amount of $100,000 per person/$300,000 per accident. In the policy application, Eachus requested UM/UIM limits in the amount of $15,000 per person/$30,000 per accident. Additionally, Eachus signed an “Important Notice” form which informed him of the availability of higher UM/UIM limits—up to the same amount as the bodily injury liability coverage limits of $100,000 per person/$300,000 per accident—if he wished to purchase them. Eachus also signed a “Request for Lower Limits” form specifically requesting lower UM/UIM policy limits at $15,000 per person/$30,000 per accident. The forms signed by Eachus indicated a “binder” number of Q98-2037302. One week later, Erie issued an auto policy to Eachus, as the named insured, effective January 20, 2011 through January 20, 2012, bearing policy number Q012011324 (“the Erie policy”). The Erie policy provided bodily injury liability coverage in the amount of $100,000 per person/$300,000 per accident. The Erie policy also provided UM/UIM coverage limits of $15,000 per person/$30,000 per accident, stacked over two vehicles, as Eachus had requested. Eachus paid a reduced premium for the Erie policy based on his election to purchase lower UM/UIM coverage limits. Between 2011 and 2015, Eachus renewed the Erie policy annually by paying the renewal premium.

In 2015, Eachus was involved in a motor vehicle accident in which he sustained injuries. The tortfeasor’s insurance policy limits were insufficient to cover the extent of Eachus’s medical bills. Consequently, Eachus submitted a claim for UIM benefits under the Erie policy. Erie accepted the UIM claim and provided the full, per person policy limit of $15,000 UIM benefits, stacked over two vehicles, for a total claim payment to Eachus of $30,000.

Contrary to Eachus'[s] assertion, there is no ambiguity in the application, which sets forth a binder number, but also identifies the policy period as January 20, 2011 to January 20, 2012 and an annual premium. Further, when Eachus signed the [Important] Notice, he acknowledged his “knowledge and understanding” of both the availability of alternate limits as well as the limits he selected in the application.

When Eachus signed the “Request for Lower Limits” form in which he specifically requesting lower UIM policy limits at $15,000 per person/$30,000 per accident, Erie satisfied section 1734’s writing requirement, as the form clearly indicated Eachus’s desire for reduced UM/UIM coverage, and the form was signed by Eachus, as the named insured. See Orsag, 15 A.3d at 901 (providing that a section 1734 written request must include the signature of the insured and an express designation of the amount of coverage requested). Further, by signing the “Important Notice” form, Eachus evidenced his “actual knowledge and understanding of the availability of [higher UM/UIM] limits as well as the benefits and limits [he had] selected.” 75 Pa.C.S.A. § 1791. Contrary to Eachus’s assertion otherwise, no other language, notice, or document was required.

Had Eachus desired to purchase UM/UIM limits in an amount equal to the bodily injury liability limits of the Erie policy, he could have selected that option at any time and paid the corresponding increased premium. Eachus was able to pay a reduced renewal premium each year for the lower amount of UM/UIM coverage he selected. As Eachus is not entitled to coverage for which he neither requested nor paid, he is due no relief.