May 8, 2019
CERTIFICATION FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE
DISTRICT OF SOUTH CAROLINA Cameron McGowan Currie, United
States District Court Judge.
Murphy and Megan Walker, both of Murphy & Grantland,
P.A., of Columbia, for Plaintiff.
William R. Padget and Carl D. Hiller, both of Finkel Law
Firm, LLC, of Columbia, for Defendant.
presented with a certified question from the United States
District Court for the District of South Carolina, asking
this Court to construe section 38-77-350(C) of the South
Carolina Code (2015) and determine whether, under the facts
presented, an insurance company is required to make a new
offer of underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage when an
additional named insured is added to an existing policy. The
statute provides that an insurer is not required to make a
new UIM coverage offer "on any automobile insurance
policy which renews, extends, changes, supersedes, or
replaces an existing policy." S.C. Code Ann. §
38-77-350(C). In 2012, Wayne Reeves acquired an insurance
policy from Progressive Direct Insurance Company
(Progressive) covering his motorcycle. When the policy was
issued, Wayne declined optional UIM coverage. In 2015,
Wayne's wife (Jennifer) and son (Bryan) were added to the
policy as "drivers and household residents,"
because they also drove motorcycles. In 2017, Bryan sold his
motorcycle and purchased another motorcycle, a 2016 Harley
Davidson, which was added to the policy. At the time, Wayne
had Bryan added as named insured to the policy. Progressive
did not offer Bryan any optional coverages.
in 2017, Bryan was involved in an accident while driving his
2016 Harley Davidson. Bryan ultimately made a claim against
Progressive to reform the policy to include UIM coverage
based on Progressive's failure to offer him the optional
coverage. Progressive contended that adding Bryan as a named
insured was a change to an existing policy, and as a result,
Progressive was not required to offer Bryan UIM coverage.
Based on the undisputed facts, the parties filed cross
motions for summary judgment, and the federal district court
certified the following questions to us:
Whether the addition of a named insured (Added Named Insured)
to an existing insurance policy under which the Added Named
Insured was previously a resident[-]relative insured is a
"change" under [section 38-77-350(C) of the South
Carolina Code] and, consequently, does not require an
additional offer of optional coverages if an offer that
satisfies [section 38-77-350(A) and (B) of the South Carolina
Code] was previously made to the named insured who originally
applied for the policy (Original Named Insured)?
If the insurer was required but failed to make a separate
offer of optional coverage to the Added Named Insured,
whether reformation should be limited to vehicle(s) in which
the Added Named Insured has an insurable interest?
reasons we will explain below, we answer the first certified
question: Yes, the addition of Bryan Reeves as a named
insured was a change to the existing policy pursuant to
section 38-77-350(C), and Progressive was not required to
make an additional offer of UIM coverage to Bryan. Having
answered the first certified question "yes," we do
not reach the second question.
certification order, the federal district court summarized
the relevant facts as follows:
The policy for which Bryan seeks reformation was initially
issued to his father, Wayne . . ., in June 2012. The policy
was renewed five times, remaining in effect through and
including July 30, 2017, on which date Bryan was injured in
the motorcycle accident for which he now seeks UIM coverage.
The policy was issued based on completion and execution of an
online policy application. The application and related UIM
and uninsured motorist ("UM") coverage offer form
("Offer Form") were completed by Wayne or his wife,
Jennifer . . ., acting as Wayne's express and implied
agent. The Offer Form satisfied the requirements for an offer
of optional UM and UIM coverages under ...