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Chad Ingalls v. Government Employees Insurance Company's Does 1-50

July 12, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: J. Michael Seabright United States District Judge




On January 12, 2009, Plaintiff Chad Ingalls, who was in the midst of moving his household from California to Hawaii, was driving a rented vehicle on Oahu when he was rear-ended by Jung Yun Song ("Song"). Chad Ingalls suffered various injuries and subsequently sought uninsured/underinsured motorist ("UM/UIM") benefits under his insurance policy from Government Employees Insurance Company ("GEICO"). GEICO has refused to make any payments under the policy, and the parties dispute whether his claim is governed by his California policy or the Hawaii policy GEICO issued after the accident.

According to Chad and Pearl Ingalls (the "Ingalls"), if the Hawaii policy applies, then they are entitled to "stack" the UM/UIM coverage by the number of vehicles insured under the policy. Thus, although the Hawaii policy provides UM/UIM coverage in the amount of $100,000 per person, this policy may provide a total of $200,000 in benefits because the policy covers two vehicles. In comparison, GEICO asserts that under the California policy, the Ingalls cannot stack the UM/UIM coverage and the amount that they would otherwise be entitled to under the policy ($100,000), must be offset by what they received from Song ($100,000) such that they are not entitled to any benefits.

Currently before the court are (1) the Ingalls' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment; and (2) GEICO's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. Each party asserts that they are entitled to summary judgment regarding which policy applies and their interpretation of that policy. Based on the following, the court finds that genuine issues of material fact exist regarding which policy applies and therefore DENIES both parties' Motions for Summary Judgment.


A. Factual Background

1. The Ingalls' Automobile Insurance With GEICO

Chad Ingalls first obtained automobile insurance with GEICO in 1992 while he was a Hawaii resident. Doc. No. 48, Ingalls' Concise Statement of Facts ("CSF") ¶ 1.*fn1 Chad Ingalls added his wife Pearl Ingalls to the policy in 1996, and maintained coverage with GEICO during their moves within Hawaii, multiple moves between Hawaii and Arizona, a move from Arizona to California, and a move from California to Hawaii. See Doc. No. 48-10, Ingalls Ex. 7 at 22, 23, 28, 41.

Chad Ingalls always notified GEICO of his moves in advance via telephone (a total of twelve moves between 2000 and 2010, see Doc. No. 44-1, Langley Decl. ¶ 10(c)), and he expected GEICO to make sure that his coverage was effective without delay when he moved from one state to another. Doc. No. 48, Ingalls CSF ¶¶ 25-26, 34; Doc. No. 48-2, Ingalls Decl. ¶ 32. GEICO never required Chad Ingalls to provide any written change of residence notifications, Doc. No. 48-2, Ingalls Decl. ¶ 32, and all address changes were reported via telephone. Doc. No. 48, Ingalls CSF ¶ 34. Although each move resulted in different insurance coverage, premiums, and terms and conditions,*fn2 Doc. No. 44-15, Akin Decl. ¶ 5, Chad Ingalls' policy number changed only twice,*fn3 and there was never a cancellation of coverage. Doc. No. 48, Ingalls CSF ¶ 23; see also Doc. No. 48-2, Ingalls Decl. ¶ 32. Ingalls' GEICO coverage was continuous during the course of these moves and throughout these years. Doc. No. 44-1, Langley Decl. ¶ 10(a).

2. GEICO's Procedures for Changing a Policy

GEICO's internal procedure regarding a state-to-state transition requires a cancellation of the prior policy and issuance of a new policy in what it refers to as a "Cancel/Rewrite." Doc. No. 44-1, Langley Decl. ¶ 5. According to Linda Langley, the Sales and Customer Service Manager at GEICO in Hawaii, a customer must provide the zip code for where the vehicle will be garaged for rating purposes such that a policy cannot be issued until garaging information is provided. Id. ¶ 6.*fn4

Langley asserts that the first step an insured takes to change the policy to another state is to contact GEICO via telephone and provide the new garaging information. Id. ¶ 7. When an insured calls GEICO, such call is generally noted on a Policy Log if the call is simply an inquiry relating to policy change, or on a 'Transaction Summary" if a policy change or transaction actually takes place.*fn5 Id. Langley asserts that if the insured calls within thirty days of a move (and has the garaging information), GEICO's procedure is to immediately process, issue, and mail a new policy with a future effective date of the move, and that such call would be evidenced on the Transaction Summary as a "Cancel/Rewrite." Id. ¶ 8. In comparison, if an insured calls more than thirty days before a move, GEICO's policy is to advise the insured to call within thirty days of the move. Id. ¶ 9. According to Langley, the Policy Log should indicate that the insured needs to follow up with GEICO when they are within thirty days of their move to "Cancel/Rewrite" the policy. Id.

Langley asserts that to ensure that GEICO representatives handle calls uniformly, GEICO utilizes "call maps," which diagramatically direct a service representative through a telephone transaction. Id. ¶ 13. These call maps are not entirely in sync with Langley's assertions regarding GEICO's policies for when a policy can be changed between states, and contain an internal inconsistency regarding when a change may be made. Specifically, the "Change of Address" call map first asks the question of whether the customer has physically moved. If the answer is "no," then the call map provides that the representative may perform an address correction only. See Doc. No. 44-4, Langley Decl. Ex. C. This result conflicts with Langley's assertions that GEICO will change a policy within thirty days of a move. Then, despite providing that an insured cannot change a policy if he has not yet moved, the call map also provides that if the caller answers that he has already moved, the representative may change the policy if the customer (1) has already moved or the move is within thirty days (even though the caller, according to the map, has already asserted that he has moved), and/or (2) can receive mail at the new address. Id. The "Change of Address Call Map" also does not make clear whether the insured must provide a garaging address as a prerequisite to changing the policy. Id.

Despite these ambiguities in the "Change of Address Call Map," an outline for insureds moving to Hawaii titled "State to State Moves Canx/Rewrite" requires the representative to gather certain information to calculate the premium for the new policy, including the "rated location for the vehicle(s)." Id. The outline further provides that the representative should provide advice regarding state-to-state coverage differences. Id. The outline does not, however, give any specific guidance regarding insurance issues and/or coverage specific to Hawaii law.*fn6 Id. According to this outline, at the end of the phone call, the representative will, among other things, provide the insured the new premium and summarize the effective dates and new payment due dates. Id.

3. The Ingalls' Move to California and the California Policy

In June 2008, the Ingalls moved from Arizona to Blythe, California (their first and only move to California). Doc. No. 48-9, Ingalls Ex. 6 at 33, 83. As was his practice, Chad Ingalls notified GEICO of this move, resulting in GEICO recording their mailing and rated address as of June 6, 2008 as 460 North 8th Street, Blythe, California 92225-1811. Doc. No. 44-1, Langley Decl. ¶ 10(e). Thereafter, premiums for the Ingalls' insured vehicles (a 2008 Honda Civic and a 2005 Lincoln Navigator) were based on California law. Doc. No. 44-1, Langley Decl. ¶ 10(e).

The Ingalls' California policy provided for UM/UIM coverage, with limits of $100,000 per person and $300,000 per occurrence. Doc. No. 69-1, at 0000002.*fn7 The California policy, in its amendments, also includes a provision offsetting GEICO's liability for underinsured motorist coverage by the amount paid by any person liable for the injury:

REIMBURSEMENT AGREEMENT AND OFFSET PROVISION. OUR RIGHT TO RECOVER PAYMENT. . . . If an award or judgment against, or settlement with, any party that the insured claimed was responsible for the bodily injury has been concluded, then the amounts we owe under this coverage shall be reduced by the amount of that award, judgment, or settlement.

Id. at 0000009. Finally, another amendment to the policy includes a governing law provision,*fn8 providing that "[t]he policy and any amendment(s) and endorsement(s) are to be interpreted pursuant to the laws of the state of California." Id. at


The Ingalls renewed this policy on November 1, 2009, with coverage running from December 6, 2008 through June 6, 2009. Doc. No. 44-1, Langley Decl. ¶ 10(f). An invoice was sent to the Ingalls' California address in December 2009, see id. ¶ 10(g); Doc. No. 44-3, Langley Decl. Ex. B, and the Ingalls paid the amount via Auto Pay on December 31, 2008. Doc. No. 55-1, Chad Ingalls Suppl. Decl. ¶ 7.

4. The Ingalls' Move From California to Hawaii

The Ingalls' move to California was ultimately short-lived -- by December 2008, the Ingalls were planning to return to Hawaii by early January 2009.*fn9 See Doc. No. 48, Ingalls CSF ¶ 9.

To that end, in mid-to-late December 2008, Chad Ingalls contacted GEICO via telephone to advise of their move to Hawaii. Id. ¶¶ 10, 11, 26. In his Declaration, Chad Ingalls asserts:

As part of the process of moving to Hawaii and changing [my] residency, in late December 2008, I contacted GEICO to make sure of coverage on our vehicles during shipping and to notify them of the upcoming move. I was assured that the cars were covered during shipping. During that conversation, I notified GEICO of my family's impending move to Hawaii on or about January 9, 2009 about two to three weeks before it happened. At that time, I did not have an address for where my family and I would be staying in Hawaii after the move. I was hoping that I would find a place or at least a P.O. Box to receive mail so we would not have to stay with my parents. I advised GEICO in December 2008 that I was moving ...

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