Recent Case Summary Reports On Matters Involving Insurance Coverage

In Skeete v. Dorvius, decided by our Supreme Court on June 10, 2005, the Court held that a step-down clause for UIM coverage in an automobile policy was
unenforceable. Specifically, the reduction in UIM coverage for passengers in the policy was buried in approximately two hundred pages of materials.

In this case, Shedrack Skeete was a passenger in a vehicle being driven by Queenie Thomas when the vehicle was struck by defendant Chaisner Dorvius. Skeete was not entitled to any other UIM coverage because he did not own a vehicle nor was he a member of a household with insurance coverage. As a result, he brought a UIM claim against the host vehicle’s policy with $100,000 UIM policy limits.

In 1999, Prudential changed Queenie Thomas’ policy. Specifically, Ms. Thomas
received notice of a step-down clause in two packages of material from Prudential totaling over two hundred pages. The amended declaration page listed coverage for UIM benefits for $100,000 per person with no notation about the step-down clause in coverage.

Insurance Coverage Bulletin.pdf