Insurance: POORE V. NATIONWIDE MUTUAL INS. CO. (COA 11/3/2006)

Insurance:  Underinsured motorist benefits and conflict of law on stacking (Ky. MVA; Indiana policy) 

DATE RENDERED: 11/3/2006

Poore appealed the decision of the Bullitt Circuit Court ruling in favor of Nationwide’s argument that Indiana law applied to the Poores’ claim for UIM benefits. The COA noted that the accident happened in Kentucky while the claimant was a resident of Indiana and the policies under which they sought UIM benefits were issued in Indiana covering vehicles housed in Indiana. There were 2 separate policies at issue, one covering 4 vehicles and another covering 1 vehicle, with each policy having limits of $100,000/$300,000. Under Indiana law, stacking is not permitted and the insurer is entitled to an offset for the tortfeasor’s primary policy limits while under Kentucky law, interpolicy stacking is permitted and no offset for the underlying limits is permitted.

The COA applied Kentucky’s conflicts of law "most significant relationship" test and concluded that Indiana clearly had a stronger relationship to the transaction and the parties, and therefore should be applied to determine the Poores’ rights, if any, to UIM benefits under the subject insurance policies. The COA rejected the Poores’ arguments that Kentucky law should apply since Poore was employed in Kentucky, had a credit union account in Kentucky, regularly shopped in Kentucky, purchased 3 vehicles in the state, and had several relative residents of the state, as it found a lack of relevance of these observations to the transaction in question.

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