Tort Law

Insurance Permissive Use Cases

This page within Virginia Tort Case Law is a compilation of cases reported by the Virginia Supreme Court and summarized by Brien Roche dealing with the topic of Insurance Permissive Use and the related topic of vehicle accidents. See the pages on Wikipedia for more information on insurance.

Insurance Permissive Use-Statutes

See Va. Code § 8.10-65 as to lack of consent of owner.

See Motor Vehicles Negligent Entrustment, § 3.47.

See Va. Code § 38.2-2204 as to omnibus clause.

Insurance Permissive Use-Cases

2011 GEICO v. USAA, 281 Va. 647, 708 S.E.2d 877.
In this permissive use case, the Court held that the first permittee with general use has the authority to permit either general use or to impose such limits on use by a second permittee as the first permittee finds prudent. In this case, the second permittee was using the vehicle in a reckless fashion. There was no evidence that he was using the vehicle within the scope of permission that he might reasonably have believed he had from the first permittee and therefore there is no coverage.

2006 Dreher v. Budget Rent-A-Car Sys., Inc., 272 Va. 390, 634 S.E.2d 324.
Insurance permissive use.In this auto accident case, trial court should have applied New York contract law since the involved vehicle was rented under a contract entered into in New York. New York imposes vicarious liability on a vehicle owner for injuries caused by permissive user. The Virginia conflicts principle requires that New York law be applied since the vehicle was rented there.

1993 The Hartford Fire Ins. Co. v. Davis, 246 Va. 495, 436 S.E.2d 429.
Insurance permissive use.Owner entrusted vehicle to mechanic for repair and authorized him to test drive. Implied permission may arise from course of conduct. Burden of proof is on party seeking to bring himself within omnibus coverage. Omnibus clause must be liberally construed. Nevertheless, this court has rejected expansive interpretation of other courts that permission to use a vehicle for one purpose implies permission for all other purposes. In this case, mechanic was driving vehicle at 11:00 at night with personal friends in vehicle and had not been doing any repair work on the vehicle that evening. No permissive use.

1991 State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. GEICO Indem., 241 Va. 326, 402 S.E.2d 21.
Couple’s daughter was given permission to drive vehicle, but her parents expressly barred her from allowing other persons to drive. While daughter was driving friend, she became ill and she asked her friend to drive. While friend was driving, there was an accident. Emergency circumstances warrant finding of implied permission by insured for purposes of coverage under omnibus clause. Emergency is unforeseen combination of circumstances where resulting state calls for immediate action. That requirement was met here.

1988 City of Norfolk v. Ingram, 235 Va. 433, 367 S.E.2d 725.
City employee operating city-owned and insured vehicle was involved in accident. Employee had permission to drive but was operating in manner not approved by employer; i.e., under influence of alcohol. Permissive use alone is enough to trigger coverage.

1984 Virginia Farm Bur. Mut. Ins. Co. v. Appalachian Power Co., 228 Va. 72, 321 S.E.2d 84.
Evidence as to permissive use in this case was conflicting, and therefore should have been submitted to jury. If vehicle is left for another for general use, permission for general use may be withdrawn. Evidence in this case was conflicting as to whether or not named insured left vehicle for general use of persons or whether use was restricted or limited. One with whom named insured has left vehicle for general use may permit its use by another, latter then being deemed to have permission of named insured.

1972 Southside Distrib. Co. v. Travelers Indem. Co., 213 Va. 38, 189 S.E.2d 681.
Omnibus clause Va. Code § 38.1-381 [now § 38.2-2204] prohibits any exclusions from policy coverage except those expressly provided by statute. Here employee exclusion was prohibited.

1972 Hardware Mut. v. General Ace., 212 Va. 780, 188 S.E.2d 218.
Permissive user entitled to identical coverage as named insured.

1972 Grange Mut. Cas. Co. v. Criterion Ins. Co., 212 Va. 753, 188 S.E.2d 91.
Ohio policy does not contain omnibus clause. Policy exclusions apply.

1970 Woodson v. Celina Mut., 211 Va. 423, 177 S.E.2d 610.
Insurance permissive use.Permission to use car must come from someone in position to give or grant it. His relation to or control over car must be such that he has right to give or withhold permission.

1970 Commercial Union Ins. Co. v. St. Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co., 211 Va. 373, 177 S.E.2d 625.
Insurance permissive use.Personal liability policy not written upon motor vehicle or any item of equipment of rolling stock is not covered by statute requiring “omnibus clause” coverage. Employee used tractor on mission of his own; policy providing coverage to employee while acting within scope of his employment does not provide coverage.

1969 Enos v. Fidelity & Cas. Co., 210 Va. 112, 168 S.E.2d 254.
Insurance permissive use.Driver was not agent of his employer but whether he was permissive user was left open.

1962 Nationwide Ins. Co. v. Cole, 203 Va. 337, 124 S.E.2d 203.
Insurance permissive use.Clark had policy on vehicle. Clark transferred vehicle to Harris. No coverage for Harris under Clark’s policy since Harris not permissive user.

1962 Hodge v. Lumbermen’s Cas. Co., 203 Va. 275, 123 S.E.2d 372.
Insurance permissive use.Stone bought auto from dealer and he was allowed to drive auto to get money for payment. Stone concealed that he was fugitive. If fraud practiced by Stone then this would vitiate permission. Jury issue as to fraud.

1959 Nationwide v. Storm, 200 Va. 526, 106 S.E.2d 588.
Insurance permissive use.Buyer and seller had agreed on installment sale of automobile. Buyer was involved in accident in interim between payment of last installment and transfer of title. Until seller delivered proper assignment of title she remained owner and since buyer was driving with her consent, insurance policy covered persons injured by him.

1958 Aetna v. Czoka, 200 Va. 385, 105 S.E.2d 869.
Insurance permissive use.Some courts have adopted view that if bailee was granted permission to use vehicle in first instance, any use while in his possession is within insured’s implied permission. Virginia does not adhere to this rule. Under omnibus clause, liability is not limited to acts of negligence in operation of motor vehicle in business of owner or otherwise. Word “permission” has negative rather than affirmative implication; that is, permitted act may be one not specifically prohibited. Permission to do specific thing is not permission to do all things.

1957 Storm v. Nationwide Ins. Co., 199 Va. 130, 97 S.E.2d 759.
Omnibus clause is to be liberally construed.

1956 Coureas v. Allstate Ins., 198 Va. 77, 92 S.E.2d 378.
Implied permission is found where operator is wife of owner, husband and wife are living together and there is no proof of absence of permission. Statements by insured as to his having given permission to operator to use auto are not admissible in action against insurance company.

1952 Liberty Mut Ins. Co. v. Venable, 194 Va. 357, 73 S.E.2d 366.
Implied permission may arise from course of conduct between parties. Permitted act may be one not specifically prohibited as contrasted to act affirmatively and specifically authorized. Omnibus statute is for benefit of party who has suffered damages by negligent use of insured’s motor vehicle when operated by another with permission of owner.

1952 Hartford Acc. & Indem. Co. v. Peach, 193 Va. 260, 68 S.E.2d 520.
Permission under omnibus coverage may be express or implied. Burden of proof in suit against insurance company is on plaintiff to show that he was within coverage of policy and that his actual use of automobile was with owner’s permission. However, operator was given vehicle by husband to make repairs. This constituted bailment for mutual benefit of all parties. Accident occurred at 11:00 p.m.; operator under influence of intoxicants; and operator on venture of his own. Not permissive use.

1951 United States Cas. Co. v. Bain, 191 Va. 717, 62 S.E.2d 814.
Accident involving unlicensed driver. Truck loaned by insured to licensed and unlicensed driver under condition that licensed driver only was to operate vehicle. Unlicensed driver later used vehicle and was involved in accident. Coverage properly denied.

1950 Fidelity & Cas. Co. v. Harlow, 191 Va. 64, 59 S.E.2d 872.
Employee used employer’s motor vehicle for his personal business after being expressly forbidden to do so. Although employer had prior knowledge of other instances of employee’s personal use of vehicle, employee did not have permission, either express or implied, to use vehicle for personal business. Virginia adheres to stricter construction of omnibus clause than do most states.

1950 Robinson v. Fidelity & Cas. Co., 190 Va. 368, 57 S.E.2d 93.
Where person has custody of auto from owner and he requests another to drive car as favor to him without there being explicit instructions not to do personal errands, then mere fact that such is done does not as matter of law remove him from status of being permissive user.

1949 Liberty Mut. Ins. Co. v. Tiller, 189 Va. 544, 53 S.E.2d 814.
Insurance permissive use.Every automobile liability insurance policy issued in Virginia will be considered to contain omnibus clause extending coverage to one legally operating vehicle with owner’s permission, express or implied. Purpose of statute is for benefit of party who has suffered damage by negligent use of insurer’s car.

1948 Virginia Auto. Mut. Ins. Co. v. Brillhart, 187 Va. 336, 46 S.E.2d 377.
Insurance permissive use.Insured sold auto without changing name of insured. New owner allowed plaintiff to drive car and he was involved in accident. Plaintiff was not permissive user since seller was named insured and named insured had no control over vehicle, and therefore no authority to grant permission to use it.

1947 State Farm Mut. v. Cook, 186 Va. 658, 43 S.E.2d 863.
Insurance permissive use.Employee was given company truck for use on job. He had been observed by employer using truck for personal business and had never been told not to do so. Here permission was implied.

1946 Sordelett v. Mercer, 185 Va, 823, 40 S.E.2d 289.
Insurance permissive use.Permission to do specific thing is not permission to do all things. Driver contended that he had permission of employer to use truck to get dinner. Evidence showed that he was looking for female companion for co-worker. If jury believed this then driver exceeded his employer’s permission. Code provision requiring liability insurance for motor vehicle carriers was not intended to impose liability coverage in case where use of vehicle is nonpermissive.

1945 Nolde Bros. v. Chalkley, 184 Va. 553, 35 S.E.2d 827.
Insurance permissive use.Issue in this case was whether helper was employee of company. Case discusses meaning of “permit” and “allow.”

1942 Maxey v. American Cas. Co., 180 Va. 285, 23 S.E.2d 221.
Insurance permissive use.Garage policy provided coverage to person driving with permission.

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Insurance Permissive Use Cases

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