Recently I represented two Philadelphia police officers who were injured as a result of a motor vehicle accident while on duty. The vehicle that caused the accident had minimal coverage. Under Pennsylvania law, the minimum automobile coverage required is $15,000/$30,000 (per person/max per accident).
Normally when a party is injured as a result of a motor vehicle accident, and the vehicle that caused the accident has insufficient coverage to compensate the injured party, the injured party can make a claim under the policy of the vehicle they occupied at the time of the accident.
Unfortunately, if you happen to be in a motor vehicle accident in any type of government vehicle you cannot recover under the City of Philadelphia’s policy. The City is a self-insurer for motor vehicle insurance purposes.
As a self-insurer, the City is not required to and does not provide uninsured motorist benefits to any of its employees injured in a motor vehicle accident in the course of their employment. Hackenberg v. Septa., 526 PA 358, 586 A.2d 879 (1991); Safe Auto Insurance Co. v School District of Philadelphia, 872 A.2d 247 (Pa. Commw. 2005).
Additionally, the City is not required to and does not provide underinsured motorist benefits to anyone, including its employees injured in motor vehicle accidents in the scope of their employment, Jenkins v. City of Philadelphia, 423 PA. Super. 588, 621 A.2d 689 (1993).
However, should you happen to own a motor vehicle with Underinsured/Uninsured protection, you may be able to collect under that policy unless the policy contains a work vehicle exclusion. This exclusion states that your policy does not provide underinsured and uninsured benefits if you are injured while operating or occupying a vehicle used in the course of your employment.
Therefore, it is not only imperative that you request UM/UIM coverage under your personal policy, which is usually very inexpensive, but you should also ensure the policy does not have the work vehicle exclusion language stated above. I would also suggest if you own more than one vehicle in your household that you request the policy limits be “stacked”.
If you have any questions surrounding this issue, please call us at (215) 642-2335. Should you or your family members be involved in a motor vehicle accident, feel free to contact us.