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Uninsured Motorist Coverage

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Case: Dennis Michael Harris, et ux v. Mickey Deanne Haynes, et al.

Facts: An Employee of Anderson County was injured at work and raised a claim against the County’s liability coverage provider, Tennessee Risk Management Trust (“TRMT”) for uninsured motorist coverage.  TRMT filed for summary judgment on the theory that the Employee was excluded from uninsured coverage under the coverage agreement with the County.  The trial court granted the motion, holding that the County was self-insured through TRMT, and, therefore, the uninsured/underinsured motorist statutes do not apply.

Appellate Decision: The intermediate court upheld summary judgment in favor of TRMT, agreeing that TRMT is not an insurance company, so the stature requiring uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage for insurance policies, T.C.A. § 56-7-1201(a), does not apply.

Issue:  Does a government self-insurance fund qualify as an “automobile liability insurance policy” subject to the uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage requirement?

Review Granted:  October 17, 2013.

Prediction:  Ben thinks the Supreme Court is likely to affirm.  As the intermediate court explained, the TRMT is a “risk pool” for self-insurance that is different from regular insurance companies.  The requirements and policy concerns behind the statute do not directly apply.