Second District Upholds Exclusion For Bodily Injury To Non-Resident Relative Insured

By: Candy L. Messersmith and David B. Shelton

08.30.13

 In Motzenbecker v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., the Second District Court of Appeal addressed whether an exclusion for bodily injury to “any insured” applied to bar coverage for injury to a third-party permissive driver of the insured vehicle who was not a resident-relative of the policyholders’ household. The driver was injured in an accident while driving the insured auto and sued the policyholder for negligently failing to maintain the brakes. The policyholders sought coverage and argued that such an exclusion violated Florida’s Financial Responsibility law and thus was void against public-policy. The Second District disagreed, noting that Florida Courts have routinely upheld these types of exclusions (typically referred to as family or household exclusions) as lawful and consistent with public policy. The Second District also relied upon the Florida Supreme Court decision in State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. v. Menendez, 70 So. 3d 566 (Fla. 2011), in which the Court construed identical language at issue in Motzenbecker, and found the exclusion negated coverage for bodily injury sustained by passengers who were members of the driver’s household. Under that policy exclusion, bodily injury is not covered if suffered by a person residing in the household of the policyholder or permissive user.

Motzenbecker, however, did not involve a household situation as the driver was not a member of the policyholders’ household. The Second District nevertheless concluded that an exclusion for bodily injury to “any insured” was valid as to anyone who qualified under the definitions of an “insured” under the policy, regardless of whether that person was also a resident relative of the policyholder. This conclusion was the result of express policy language.