In February 2011, a Louisiana Court of Appeal held that a uninsured motorist rejection form is not valid unless it is dated by the insured at the time of signature.
The case was sent back to the trial court, where conflicting witness testimony will be presented as to who dated the UM coverage section. There is no documentary evidence to prove who dated the rejection.
The insured will testify that she did not date the rejection. The agent will testify that, although she does not recall the specific circumstances surrounding this policy, she is certain that the insured filled in the date because she always has the policy applicants sign and date all policies before leaving the office and that she would not, under any circumstances, date a form for a policy applicant.
The name of the game is to minimize risk, or in the best of circumstances, to create certainty. Yet it is far from certain to rely on witness credibility to determine the enforceablity of policy provisions.
Here are some practical tips to adopt depending on your risk threshold level.
- Adopt a written office policy that (a) only policy applicants date the UM rejection or selection coverage and (b) all applicants initial the date.
- In practice, make sure the applicant is the one that dates the rejection or selection coverage and it is done simultaneous with signing the application.
- Add an acknowledgement to your document packet that reads: “I certify that I inserted the date printed on my UM rejection or coverage selection contemporaneously with my signature.”
Further analysis by the Court looked to a 2006 Louisiana Supreme Court decision. In that case the Louisiana Supreme Court noted that the Louisiana UM statute requires only:
- that the rejection or selection be made on a form prescribed by the commissioner of insurance;
- that the form be provided by the insurer; and
- that the form be signed by the named insured or his legal representative.
The Court then noted that the UM form involves six tasks:
- initialing the selection or rejection of coverage chosen;
- if limits lower than the policy limits are chosen, then filling in the aoumt of coverage selected for each person and each accident;
- printing the name of the insured or legal representative;
- signing the name of named insured or legal representative;
- filling in the policy number; and
- filling in the date.