Posted by H. Lee Pruett
The Georgia Supreme Court recently clarified that it is the insured/plaintiff, not the UM carrier, who has the burden of proof as to whether the at-fault driver was in fact an uninsured motorist under the plaintiff’s UM policy. In Travelers Home & Marine Ins. Co. v. Castellanos, Case No. S14G1878, 2015 Ga. LEXIS 350 (Ga. S. Ct., June 1, 2015), the defendant did not appear at trial in the underlying case. After the plaintiff obtained a judgment, the defendant’s liability carrier, United Auto, denied coverage to the defendant based on a failure to cooperate in the defense. The plaintiff then sought payment from Travelers, his UM carrier, and eventually filed suit against Travelers for bad faith refusal to pay a covered loss. Travelers raised the defense that United Auto did not “legally deny” the underlying defendant’s liability coverage and, therefore, the defendant was not an “uninsured motorist” under the policy.