Supreme Court Ruling May Expose Insurance Agents To Lawsuits


A Supreme Court ruling on an insurance case in Arizona may leave insurance agents open to lawsuits. The case in question is Wilks V. Manobianco and this legal battle has been going on since 2010. An Arizona couple, Lesley Wilks and her husband Paul Wilks sued John Manobianco of the Manobianco Insurance Agency after Lesley Wilks got into an accident with another driver who happened to be uninsured. At the heart of the matter is the liability or otherwise of the insurance agent in cases where they are accused of failing to inform their clients about uninsured and underinsured motorists coverage.

In this particular case, there are documents to show that Lesley Wilks signed a waiver informing her that she was going without uninsured/underinsured motorists coverage (UIM). Attorneys for Ms. Wilks state that she signed the waiver as part of large package of insurance documents. The attorneys also claim Lesley Wilks may have been misled by the agent. This is because she told the agent she wanted a policy similar to a previous one she already had and that previous policy included UIM coverage.

The attorneys for Manobianco argue that the agent told the woman she was not going to get the UIM coverage in the policy in question. According to the attorneys of the insurance company, by signing the waiver, Lesley Wilks knew she was not going to get the UIM coverage. The case went to a Superior Court, an Appeals Court and all the way to the Supreme Court. Now, the highest court in the land has ruled that the case should be sent back to trial in Arizona.

According to the Supreme Court ruling, the waiver gives carriers a “safe harbor” but this does not apply to agents because they have a duty to care for their clients. Attorneys for the insurance company believe they will be vindicated but Mr. and Ms. Wilks also believe they have a good case. The upcoming trial will determine the correct position in this landmark case.

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