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Florida Fourth DCA rules GEICO's online form to elect non-stacked UM coverage invalid under Fla. Stat. Section 627.727, precluding possibility of oral waiver by insured

On April 25, 2018, in Jervis v. Castaneda and Geico General Insurance, No. 4D17-332, the Florida Fourth DCA ruled that Geico’s online form to elect non-stacked coverage was invalid under Fla. Stat. Section 627.727. The plaintiffs bought uninsured motorist (UM) coverage from Geico for two vehicles and completed an online form which Geico used to have applicants waive stacked coverage. When the plaintiffs asserted stacked coverage applied in their lawsuit claiming coverage following a motor vehicle accident, Geico claimed that the stacked coverage had been waived in the online form.

The trial judge entered a summary judgment order rejecting this defense based on the multiple ways in which the online form failed to meet the precise requirements of Fla. Stat. Section 627.727, including use of the wrong type font and omission of the requisite statutory warnings on the signature page (the correct type font and warnings were contained on another page which led to the hyperlinked signature page) and the lack of any electronic ability to deselect the electronic form’s preselection of a waiver of stacked coverage. Geico then amended its complaint to allege that the plaintiffs had orally rejected the stacked coverage, a defense that jury accepted at trial in rendering a verdict in Geico’s favor.

On appeal, the Fourth DCA concluded that given the defects in the online form, the plaintiffs’ alleged oral waiver of the stacked coverage could not have constituted an “informed and knowing” waiver. The Fourth DCA consequently reversed the final judgment in favor of Geico and remanded for the entry of a final judgment in favor of the plaintiffs entitling them to stacked UM coverage.

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