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Florida Third DCA rules that UM coverage was unavailable where $175,000 settlement with County School Board, employer of at-fault driver, was less than the $200,000 limits of the Board’s liability insurance policy

On March 30, 2022, in White v. Ascendant Commercial Insurance, Inc. et al, No. 3D21-1455, the Florida Third DCA affirmed a summary judgment in favor of the defendant UM insurance carrier in a motor vehicle negligence case. The Third DCA ruled that the UM insurance coverage was unavailable in this case because the plaintiff had not exhausted the insurance limits available from the Miami-Dade County School Board, the employer of the-fault school bus driver. The plaintiff had settled with the School Board for $175,000, which was less than its liability insurance policy limits of $200,000. The Third DCA rejected the plaintiff’s argument that the School Board was a self-insured government entity classified as uninsured or underinsured pursuant to section 627.727(3), Florida Statutes (2020), noting that School Board pays premiums to United Educators Insurance for the policy with a $200,000 per occurrence limit. The Court focused on the policy language expressly providing that UM benefits are payable only when the tortfeasor’s insurance coverage has been exhausted through the payment of judgment or settlements.