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LWC Member Brenda Wallrichs Wins Significant Insurance Coverage Case

lvandee | October 8th, 2019

LWC Member Brenda Wallrichs successfully defended Westfield National Insurance Company in a case pending in the U.S.D.C. for the Southern District of Iowa involving uninsured motorists’ benefits. In Behning v. Westfield, Plaintiff Behning was severely injured in an auto accident while serving as a police officer. The offending driver was not insured. His employer paid workers’ compensation benefits. In addition, his employers’ auto carrier paid Behning uninsured motorist benefits, but did not exhaust its limits. Behning then turned to his personal auto insurer, Westfield, and sought the limits of their UM policy. The case by Behning proceeded on stipulated facts. Westfield agreed that if there was coverage under its UM policy, that they would pay Behning their limits.

Westfield argued and the Court agreed that the anti-stacking provision in the Westfield policy limited Behning’s recovery to the highest applicable limit between the two applicable policies. The Iowa Code allows anti-stacking provisions in UM policies. Because Behning’s employer policy had higher limits than Westfield’s, he was barred from further recovery.   In doing so, the Court rejected Behning’s argument that the employers’ policy only set the overall limit of his recovery and because he had not received the full limit, Westfield had to pay. The Court also rejected Behning’s argument that the consortium claim of his wife was a separate claim and that she was therefore entitled to the Westfield policy limit. The Court held that all claims based upon a single “bodily injury” take as one claim under a single limit rather than separate limits.

Behning v. Westfield National Insurance Company, U.S.D.C. S.D. of Iowa, No. 3:19-cv-0029-CRW-HCA.

Brenda Wallrichs is a member of Lederer Weston Craig, PLC specializing in insurance coverage, bad faith and appellate cases. She is the only Iowa fellow in the American College of Coverage Counsel (https://www.americancollegecoverage.org/), and an active member of DRI and the FDCC. https://www.lwclawyers.com/team/brenda-k-wallrichs/.

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