Log In

Yunker v. Farmers Automobile Management Corporation

404 Ill.App.3d 816, 935 N.E.2d 630, 343 Ill. Dec. 622 (3rd dist. 2010)

Words & Phrases

Cancellation: Notice Of

Trial Judge

Barbara Petrungaro

Appellate Judge

Mary K. O'Brien


Automobile insurance policy was expired at the time of the insured’s accident and the insured failed to reinstate the policy within the allowed grace period.

Fact Summary

Maggie Yunker was injured as a passenger in an automobile accident on August 7. The Yunkers' premium on their automobile liability policy with Farmers Automobile Management Corp. (“Farmers”) was not paid by July 20, the final day of the policy period. As she was not fully compensated by the tortfeasor’s policy, the Yunkers sought coverage under the underinsured motorists provisions of the Farmers policy.

The Yunkers filed suit against Farmers seeking a declaration of coverage. Farmers filed a motion for summary judgment which the trial court granted. Following Yunkers’ appeal of the summary judgment decision, Farmers filed a motion for sanctions, which was denied.

This case involved three issues on appeal. First, the court held that jurisdiction was proper despite Farmers’ objection. Farmers argued that the summary judgment order was not final and appealable. Thus Yunkers’ notice of appeal was premature. The court disagreed, finding Yunkers’ notice of appeal to be timely since Farmers’ motion for sanctions was denied. As Yunkers did not appeal the denial, they were not required to file an amended notice of appeal. Their original notice was timely, making jurisdiction proper. Second, the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Farmers was appropriate because there were no genuine issues of material fact. Farmers was not required to give Yunkers notice of their upcoming policy expiration, in contrast to the requirements relating to a policy cancellation. Both Illinois case law and the Insurance Code § 215 ILCS 5/143.19 state that cancellation is different from automatic expiration of a policy. Regardless, the insured was given notice that his premium was due six days before the policy’s final day with a warning that the policy would expire without receipt of payment by the policy’s end date. Additionally, even though the policy included a twenty-day grace period for renewal, the insured failed to successfully reinstate the policy within that period; he submitted payment nine days past the grace period. Third, the appellate court found that the trial court properly denied the insurer’s motion for Rule 137 sanctions. Sanctions may be appropriate when a complaint is not well-grounded in fact or in law, lacks a good-faith basis or is interposed for an improper purpose. As the facts did not support a finding of any of these conditions, it was not an abuse of discretion to deny the insurer’s motion for sanctions.