Washington Law – UIM and Loss of Consortium Claims

Washington Law – UIM and Loss of Consortium Claims

There are two instances in in which Washington courts have repeatedly rejected claims for loss of consortium in the UIM context. First, when the claimant is not an insured. Second, when the claim is subject to a valid policy exclusion.

In Gaddis v. Safeco Ins., 58 Wn. App. 537, 794 P.2d 533, rev. denied, 115 Wn.2d 1029 (1990), a mother whose children lived with their legal custodian was killed by an uninsured motorist. The children made UIM claims under their custodian’s auto liability policy, seeking damages for loss of their mother’s consortium. The Washington Court of Appeals held that the UIM policy did not cover the children’s UIM claims because the decedent mother was not a covered person under the policy.

In Eurick v. Pemco Ins. Co., 108 Wn.2d 338, 738 P.2d 251 (1987), the named insureds’ minor child died while riding on a motorcycle. The insureds, the minor’s parents, made a UIM claim, seeking damages for loss of consortium. The UIM insurer denied coverage, citing the policy’s motorcycle exclusion. On appeal, the named insureds (the parents) argued that the exclusion precluded coverage only for the insured child who was occupying the motorcycle and did not preclude coverage for their loss of consortium damages. The Washington Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the exclusion barred all claims arising from the bodily injury of the motorcycle rider.

In Eddy v. Fidelity Guar. Ins. Underwriters, Inc., 113 Wn.2d 168, 776 P.2d 966 (1989), a married couple made UIM claims with their insurer after the husband was injured in a motor-vehicle accident. The wife sought damages for loss of consortium. At the time of the accident, the husband happened to be driving his employer’s vehicle and he had exclusive use of that vehicle. The couple’s UIM insurer denied the claims, citing a policy exclusion for injuries sustained while operating a vehicle available for the insured’s regular use. The Washington Supreme Court held the insurer’s denial was proper because the husband’s claim was properly denied per the policy exclusion and therefore the wife could not recover for loss of consortium under the policy’s UIM coverage.

Keep Reading

More by this author