Illinois Appellate Court Keeps Alive Uninsured Motorist Claim

On July 21, 2007, Terri Whitehead was involved in a two-car crash in Wisconsin. The driver of the other car did not have insurance. Section 143.1 of the Illinois Insurance Code saved Whitehead’s uninsured motorist claim from being barred by a two-year deadline for initiating arbitration.

Although Whitehead did not demand arbitration on her uninsured motorist (UM) claim against Country Preferred Insurance Co. within two years of when she was injured by the uninsured motorist, and she failed to select an arbitrator when she eventually demanded arbitration, she did notify Country Preferred a few hours after the crash, plus she promptly filled out and returned its “notice of claim” form.

The notice of claim form was sufficient to trigger Section 143.1 which provides:

“Whenever any policy or contract for insurance * * * contains a provision limiting the period within which the insured may bring suit, the running of such period is tolled from the date proof of loss is filed, in whatever form is required by the policy, until the date the claim is denied in whole or in part.”

Based on this Section 143.1, Whitehead won summary judgment in the declaratory judgment case filed by Country Preferred. The Illinois Appellate Court affirmed the trial court’s decision allowing Whitehead to proceed with arbitration in this uninsured motorist claim.

“While nearly three years passed between Whitehead’s accident and her arbitration demand, almost two years of that period was tolled – from Nov. 28, 2007 to Oct. 19, 2009. Subtracting the time that was tolled, only 13 months passed from the time of the accident to Whitehead’s demand for arbitration. Because Whitehead made her arbitration demand well within the policy’s two-year provision, the trial court properly granted her summary judgment.”

The tolling of the two-year limitations period began upon Country Preferred’s receipt of that form, which Whitehead sent in on Nov. 28, 2007, just over four months after Whitehead’s crash. Tolling continued until Country Preferred rejected Whitehead’s arbitration demand on Oct. 19, 2009.  Whitehead first demanded arbitration on Oct. 16, 2009, but did not include the name of an arbitrator in the demand. On July 19, 2010, Whitehead filed a new demand for arbitration that included the name of the arbitrator. As of July 19, 2010, at the latest, the defendant fulfilled her requirements under the insurance policy by requesting arbitration and naming an arbitrator. The appellate court referred to the case of Rein v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., 403 Ill.App.3d 969 (2011) where a demand for arbitration must include the name of the arbitrator.

Because Whitehead made her arbitration demand well within the policy’s two-year provision, the trial court properly granted her summary judgment.

Country Preferred Insurance Co. v. Whitehead, 2016 IL App (3d) 150080 (June 2, 2016).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling automobile crash cases, truck accident cases, motorcycle accident cases and bicycle accident cases for individuals and families who have been injured or killed by the negligence of another for more than 40 years, in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Berwyn, Bolingbrook, Romeoville, Tinley Park, University Park, Country Club Hills, Schaumburg, Rosemont and Elmhurst, Ill.

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