Under Georgia law, an automobile insurance policy may exclude certain individuals from coverage. For example, if you purchase insurance coverage for your vehicle, you may want to exclude your child from coverage if he has a poor driving record; such an exclusion can improve your own insurance rate. The courts will generally honor an exclusion if it is clear and unambiguous.
A recent decision by a federal judge in Macon helps explain this subject. The underlying case arose from a fatal December 2006 automobile accident. One person–the driver deemed solely responsible for the accident–died while another man suffered serious injuries. In 2008, the surviving injury victim filed a negligence suit in Dooley County Superior Court against the estate of the deceased driver. The victim also sued the driver’s parents, who owned the car, for negligent entrustment, that is negligently providing their son with access to their automobile.
The parents held an insurance policy on their automobile from Progressive Max Insurance Company. About a month before the accident, the father signed a “Name Driver Exclusion Election” listing his son as an excluded driver. The language of the exclusion stated, “No coverage is provided for any claim arising from an accident or loss involving a motorized vehicle being operated by an excluded driver.” This included any claims made against the parents or their son for “vicarious liability” arising from the son’s operation of the vehicle. Vicarious liability refers to the responsibility of a superior for the acts of his agent. This commonly arises in cases where a company is liable for negligent acts committed by an employee.