Coverage for Your Commute
Christopher Bartolomucci v. Federal Ins. Co., et al., __ S.E.2d __, 2015 WL 1727279 (Va. April 16, 2015)
Plaintiff filed a declaratory judgment action seeking to establish that his personal vehicle fell within the scope of the Federal Insurance Company Insurance Policy (hereinafter “Policy”) issued to Plaintiff’s law firm. Plaintiff was involved in a motor vehicle accident with Vu Vo. Vo filed a lawsuit against Plaintiff seeking $1,000,000.00 in damages. Plaintiff was insured under an Allstate Policy with a $100,000.00 limit. As Plaintiff’s liability exceeded this limit, he asserted that he had excess coverage under his firm’s Policy. The trial court entered final judgment in favor of Defendant holding that the Policy did not cover Plaintiff’s vehicle at the time of the collision. Plaintiff appealed.
The primary issue the Court addressed was whether the Policy provided coverage to Plaintiff’s vehicle at the time of the collision. The relevant portion of the Policy provided excess coverage for all vehicles not owned by the firm. However, for such coverage to be activated for vehicles not owned by the firm, the vehicle in question must have been used for either business or personal affairs of the firm at the time of the accident. Here, Plaintiff was using the vehicle to commute from his home to the law firm. Plaintiff asserted that this was enough to meet the requirements of the policy as he considered his home a second work location, he had access to a Blackberry which could have been used to do work and he habitually thought about work issues during his commute. The Court held that Plaintiff’s description of his commute did not amount to anything more than a typical commute from home to work. As such, the Court held that Plaintiff was not using his vehicle for the business or personal affairs of the firm and was not entitled to coverage under the Policy.