“Regular Use” Exclusion Provisions in Atlanta Insurance Policies Defined by the Court in Vann v. Mercury


We pay insurance premiums in order to have a safeguard if we are ever involved in a car accident. But, how many times do we hear of insurance companies trying to get away with not releasing benefits?
Insurance Policy

If you are involved in an Atlanta truck accident, it is important to know what benefits you are entitled to. It is important to have an experienced injury attorney advocating for you against the big insurance conglomerates. Our attorneys understand what it needs to get you the benefits you have paid for.

Vann v. Mercury is a truck accident case out of New Jersey. The case arose where the plaintiff, Richard Vann (plaintiff), was driving a truck for a company named Vann Trucking which was owned and operated by his father. Plaintiff was on his way to pick up a trailer to hitch to the truck. While the plaintiff was parked on a service road near Philadelphia, a train struck the truck. The plaintiff suffered injuries to his lower back, shoulders, neck and head.

At the time of this accident, plaintiff had an insurance policy with Mercury Indemnity Company (defendant) for his two personal vehicles. As part of plaintiff’s insurance policy with the defendant, he had coverage in the form of personal injury protection (PIP) and med-pay benefits. As the defendant points out, there were exclusions to the benefit payout.

Vann Trucking had a commercial insurance policy with National Independent Truckers Insurance Company (National). This commercial policy was for the truck being driven by the plaintiff. The problem arose because the commercial policy did not provide PIP or med-pay benefits.

In an attempt to seek additional benefits for medical care, plaintiff entered a claim with his personal insurer for med-pay benefits. This claim was rejected and the defendant cited that the “regular use” exclusion in the policy was applicable to the claim.

Most regular use clauses stipulate that the insurance company will pay medical expense benefits to an insured who suffers a bodily injury caused by an accident arising from the use, maintenance or ownership of an insured’s automobile. Additionally, the policy in this case adds that they will provide coverage for medical benefits for the insured where the insured is using a vehicle not owned by him, and not normally used by the insured. Essentially, if the insured regularly uses the vehicle not owned or insured by him, and is involved in an accident, the med-pay coverage benefits are excluded and the insured cannot collect.

Basically, insurance companies want to protect themselves from having to pay out benefits to the insured where the insured is regularly using a vehicle that is not under the policy. The purpose of this is to encourage people to insure each vehicle they have regular access to. Under this policy with the exclusion provision, the insurance company will only extend benefits where the insured is injured in a vehicle on the policy or where the accident occurred in a vehicle that the insured is infrequently driving.

Because the truck the plaintiff was in when he sustained the injuries was regularly and customarily used by the plaintiff, the insurance company would not extend med-pay benefits.

The court agreed with the insurance company because case precedent on this issue has found that exclusionary clauses like the one at issue here, apply to cases where the insured is using another vehicle for work.

Thus the plaintiff in this case could not collect med-pay benefits. Summary judgment was entered on behalf of the insurance company.

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About Michael Sullivan

Michael A. Sullivan is a former federal prosecutor who has more than twenty-five years of experience in sophisticated civil and criminal litigation.

Mr. Sullivan has represented large businesses and individuals in complex cases, many involving fraud and breaches of fiduciary duty. His trial experience over three decades has included white collar criminal cases, civil fraud, business torts, and serious personal injury and death cases. Mr. Sullivan has been selected as a Super Lawyer each year from 2006 to present.

From 1995-98, Mr. Sullivan served under Larry D. Thompson as a federal prosecutor in the Independent Counsel investigation of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which included the prosecution of former Secretary of the Interior James Watt. He also has defended businesses and individuals in white collar criminal investigations and prosecutions, including financial fraud and tax investigations.  Mr. Sullivan has also conducted internal investigations, and has advised organizations on compliance issues.

In addition to handling a variety of complex civil cases, Mr. Sullivan represents whistleblowers worldwide in qui tam litigation under the False Claims Act, in the IRS Whistleblower Program, and in the new SEC and CFTC Whistleblower Programs.

Mr. Sullivan has worked with the False Claims Act since the late 1980s and has both defended and prosecuted cases under the False Claims Act.

Since the December 2006 inception of the new IRS Whistleblower Program, Mr. Sullivan has also represented tax whistleblowers in submissions totaling many billions of dollars. He has also worked with the IRS Whistleblower Office staff in presenting programs on best practices in pursuing IRS Whistleblower claims.

In 2009 and again in 2010, Mr. Sullivan was contacted by staff members of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee to discuss how the new SEC and CFTC Whistleblower Programs under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act should operate. He has also met with the SEC and CFTC Chairmen and senior staff to recommend changes to the proposed rules for SEC and CFTC Whistleblower claims.

In 2014, Mr. Sullivan served as lead counsel to a major international corporation and won an eight-figure jury verdict against defendants who had defrauded the company and breached their fiduciary duties to it.

Mr. Sullivan is a graduate of the University of North Carolina and Vanderbilt Law School, where he was Senior Articles Editor of the Vanderbilt Law Review. He clerked for U.S. District Judge Marvin H. Shoob in Atlanta from 1984-86.