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Clark v. Southern Farm Bureau Cas. Ins. Co., Inc.

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division I

April 6, 2016

TIM CLARK, APPELLANT
v.
SOUTHERN FARM BUREAU CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY, INC., APPELLEE

          APPEAL FROM THE PULASKI COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, SEVENTEENTH DIVISION. NO. 60CV-12-471. HONORABLE MACKIE M. PIERCE, JUDGE.

         Danny R. Crabtree, for appellant.

         David Armstrong Hodges, for appellee.

         PHILLIP T. WHITEAKER, Judge. GLADWIN, C.J., and HARRISON, J., agree.

          OPINION

         

Page 403

          PHILLIP T. WHITEAKER, Judge

         Tim Clark appeals a summary-judgment order denying his claim against appellee Southern Farm Bureau Insurance Company (SFB) for underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. We reverse and remand for further proceedings.[1]

         The facts are undisputed. Clark was injured in a car accident in Missouri in 2010.[2] The driver of the other vehicle, Carla Zender, was at fault. Zender carried a $100,000 automobile liability policy, and Clark settled with her and her insurer for that amount. In consideration of the settlement, Clark released Zender and her insurer from further liability arising out of the accident. Clark did not give his own auto insurer, SFB, prior notice of the settlement.

         At some point, Clark indicated to SFB that his damages exceeded Zender's policy limits and that he would seek UIM benefits. SFB filed suit, seeking a declaration that Clark's failure to give prior notice of the Zender settlement precluded UIM coverage. SFB subsequently moved for summary judgment based on the following policy provision:

NOTICE REQUIREMENTS AND SETTLEMENT OF LOSS

You must provide us written notice if you reach, or if the covered person reaches, a tentative agreement to settle the loss with the owner, operator, or liability insurer of the underinsured auto.

The written notice must be by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, and include:
a. written documentation of the pecuniary losses incurred, including copies of all medical bills; and
b. written authorization or court order authorizing us to obtain medical reports from all employers ...

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