Court Finds Statutory Requirement For 12-Point Type Not Binding

Seldom in insurance coverage cases do courts look beyond the language of a statute or insurance contract. When they do find ambiguity, they usually try to resolve it with resort to the least amount of extrinsic evidence possible. So Kinsey v. Pacific Employers Ins. Co., 277 Conn. 398, 891 A.2d 959 (March 7, 2006) deviates from the common rule.
In the case, an employer signed a consent form to lower its Underinsured/Uninsured Motorist (UIM) Coverage. The form contained a warning, in 8-point type, that the insured’s “family” would pay a lower premium, but also receive less of an important protection. An employee was injured driving a company vehicle, and claimed the attempt to lower the limits was ineffective, because Connecticut has a statute requiring the notice to be in 12-point type. The court noted that the warning was worded as the statute dictated, and said the reference to “family” rendered the statute ambiguous regarding a sophisticated entity like a large corporation. The court therefore looked at the legislative history, and found lawmakers were concerned with protecting individuals, not companies with resort to high-level legal and insurance advice. The court ruled the use of the 8-point type did not affect the validity of the company’s reduction of its UIM coverage, and granted the employer’s request to vacate an arbitration award against it.

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