Generally, underinsured motorist coverage (UIM) allows you to recover additional benefits pursuant to your personal auto insurance policy in the event that you are injured in a motor vehicle accident and the individual that hit you does not have adequate insurance coverage to fully compensate you for your injuries. However, if you regularly drive a vehicle that has been provided to you by your employer, you may be precluded from recovering UIM benefits pursuant to your personal auto insurance policy. The language of many UIM policies contains a specific exclusion denying coverage where an insured is involved in an accident while driving or a passenger in a non-owned vehicle that is made available for their “regular use.” This “regular use” exclusion has been held to prevent recovery of UIM benefits where an insured was involved in an accident while driving a car that was provided to his wife as a benefit of employment. Burstein v. Prudential Property & Cas. Ins. Co., 809 A.2d 204 (Pa. 2002).
It is important to note that driving a car that is owned by your employer does not automatically preclude you from recovering UIM benefits. Recently, in Dixon v. GEICO, the Pennsylvania Superior Court reversed a trial court decision which held that the “regular use” exclusion was valid as applied to a postal worker who was involved in an accident while driving a postal vehicle from one location to another after servicing the vehicle. The court determined that in order to fall within the “regular use” exclusion, there must be an understanding with the owner of the vehicle that the insured was permitted to use the vehicle at such times as he or she desired.