Under the Illinois Vehicle Code, every motor vehicle liability policy issued in Illinois must cover drivers who have expressed or implied permission from the insured. Recently, in a question of first impression, the Illinois Appellate Court was asked whether this statutory requirement for omnibus coverage applies to a liability insurance policy issued to a trucking company for commercial vehicles.
Based on State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. v. Universal Underwriters Group, 182 Ill.2d 240 (1998), the First District Court reversed a ruling for Zurich American Insurance Company and concluded that Zurich American was obligated to provide omnibus coverage under a trucker’s policy. Zurich American Insurance Co. v. Key Cartage, 2008 WL 4445122 (1st Dist., Sept. 30).
In this case, Zurich American had issued a trucker’s policy to Rose Cartage Services. One of the covered vehicles was a Kenworth tractor that Rose had leased from Franklin Truck Group and later loaned out to an affiliated company, Key Cartage.
Terry Washington was driving the vehicle for Key Cartage when it was involved in an Illinois truck accident that resulted in the other driver’s death. Both Key Cartage and Washington were sued for the wrongful death of the individual. They argued that they were entitled to coverage under the policy that Zurich sold to Rose Cartage.
Zurich argued that the Vehicle Code did not require omnibus coverage because insurance requirements for trucking companies are set by another statute: The Illinois Commercial Transportation Law.
However, upon review of the case, “as a matter of first impression,” Justice Quinn and his colleagues declared, “we hold that § 7-315(b)(2) of the Illinois Vehicle Code applies to insurance policies issued to commercial truckers. In addition, we find that Zurich’s reciprocal coverage provision violated § 7-315(b)(2), and therefore is void against public policy.”