Florida Supreme Court rules car insurance company must pay the family of motorcyclist in fatal accident

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The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a ruling in a dispute about whether uninsured-motorist insurance coverage should apply in a 2015 fatal motorcycle accident.

The Hernando County case stemmed from the death of Michael Lentini while riding his motorcycle. Lentini had purchased a collector-vehicle insurance policy for his 1992 Chevrolet Corvette, which was not involved in the accident, according to court records. The policy included $300,000 in uninsured-motorist coverage.

After Lentini’s death, his estate sought to collect the uninsured-motorist benefits and ultimately sued American Southern Home Insurance. A circuit judge ruled in favor of the insurance company, but a panel of the 5th District Court of Appeal overturned that decision last year.

The appeals court said uninsured-motorist coverage follows the policyholder and not the insured vehicle, unless an agreement is signed to limit the coverage. American Southern Home Insurance appealed to the Supreme Court.

Uninsured-motorist coverage follows the policyholder and not the insured vehicle.

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"The issue before this (Supreme) Court is whether an insurer that issues a reduced premium collector vehicle policy may limit uninsured motorist coverage under that specialty policy to accidents involving the occupancy or use of the collector vehicle," Justice Ricky Polston wrote in Thursday’s main opinion, joined by Chief Justice Charles Canady and Justice Jorge Labarga.

Polston concluded that state law does not allow the “limitations placed on uninsured motorist coverage in the collector vehicle policy at issue.” Justice Carlos Muniz wrote a concurring opinion that was joined by Justice Alan Lawson.

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