In a powerful reaffirmation of the mandated uninsured motorist statutes, the Louisiana Supreme Court in Baack v. McIntosh, 2020-01054 ( La. 06/30/21). There, the claimants sought UM coverage under an employer’s automobile policy. The policy was procured in 2002 by a corporate predecessor who had properly rejected UM coverage via a UM form initialed and signed by its corporate controller. The policy was renewed by the new corporate entity until a limits increase was purchased in 2011, necessitating a new rejection form. From 2012 through 2014, the corporate controller signed and dated the annual forms, but failed to initial the blanks provided on the form to reject UM coverage.
Noting that both contract and statutory interpretation raise questions of law for the court, the Supreme Court rejected the insurer’s argument that the proper rejection of UM coverage completed in 2011 remained in effect. The insurer asserted that no effective modification of coverage could be found by the simple failure to initial the boxes on the signed form. Under the statute, an “insured may change the original uninsured motorist selection or rejection on a policy at any time during the life of the policy by submitting a new uninsured motorist selection form to the insurer on the form prescribed by the commissioner of insurance.” La. R.S. 22:1295(1)(a)(ii). Because of the affirmative requirements on the form, the only way to “select” UM coverage is to not initial any of the options available. While La. R.S. 22:1295(1)(b) allows an insured to increase limits of coverage, it does not override the sole method for rejecting coverage.