Probably every motor vehicle insurance policy now issued in Florida will contain what is known as the household member exclusion for bodily injury insurance benefits. (Bodily injury insurance is the type of coverage that compensates individuals injured in motor vehicle accidents caused by negligence.) The exclusion will apply to “any member of the family of an insured residing in the same household as the insured.” (Typical insurance policy language.) To the surprise of many, including some lawyers, the household exclusion is enforceable in Florida.
A simple example: A father and his minor son are involved in an accident caused by the father’s negligent operation of his vehicle. The son is severly injured. The insurance policy on the vehicle contains $100,000 of bodily injury coverage. The policy also contains the family household exclusion.
If the vehicle involved in the accident was the only insured vehicle owned by the father or any other family member, the young son, who resides with his father, is out of luck. Period. This is so even if the father maintained underinsured motorist coverage under the policy. Even though the son is technically uninsured due to the household exclusion, the Florida Supreme Court, in Reid v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Co., 352 So.2d 1172 (Fla. 1977), has decided that a vehicle cannot be both insured and uninsured on the same policy. Because the vehicle in our simple scenario did have bodily injury coverage, and thus, was not uninsured, the son could not avail himself of the uninsured motorist coverage under the same policy.
However, if any other resident family member, including the father, owned another vehicle and maintained uninsured motorist coverage for that vehicle, even through the same insurance company, the minor son would be entitled to the coverage.
CONCLUSION: If a family owns more than one vehicle, protect against the family household exclusion by maintaining uninsured motorist coverage on each vehicle. (For that matter, I recommend uninsured/underinsured coverage on all motor vehicle policies, even if only one vehicle is owned in the household. Although the household exclusion would not be overcome, uninsured/underinsured insurance is important in other ways.)
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Jeffrey P. Gale, P.A. is a South Florida based law firm committed to the judicial system and to representing and obtaining justice for individuals – the poor, the injured, the forgotten, the voiceless, the defenseless and the damned, and to protecting the rights of such people from corporate and government oppression. We do not represent government, corporations or large business interests.