Insurer Can Refuse Medical Payments in DUI Case
Appeals Court Ruling Involves 1998 Crash
POSTED: 1:44 p.m. EDT September 24, 2003
NEW HAVEN, Conn. — A federal appeals court has ruled in a Connecticut
case that being drunk while driving can mean the insurance company does
not have to pay medical bills.
National Health Insurance Co. does not have to pay $242,235 in medical
bills incurred by a 19-year-old Guilford man who was driving drunk when
he crashed his car in 1998, the 2nd U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled.
The court found the policy from National Health that excluded coverage
for expenses incurred as the result of intoxication is enforceable.
“It’s an important decision because the ruling reinforces Connecticut
public policy against drunken driving,” William H. Clendenen Jr., the
attorney for the Texas-based insurance company in the case said
Clendenen said the intoxication exclusion is a standard clause in
National Health’s policies, but some other companies do not have it.
John F. Wynne Jr., lawyer for plaintiffs Oliver Bishop III and his
son, Oliver Bishop IV, said the intoxication exclusion clause “is hardly
ever found in a group health insurance policy.”
Wynne said the case against the insurance company is over, but other
cases brought by the Bishops are pending, including one against the
insurance agent who sold Bishop the policy and one against the New Haven
liquor store where the underage Bishop made his purchases.
On March 14, 1998, Oliver Bishop IV, then 19, purchased a case of beer
and a half pint of liquor at a store in New Haven and went to a party in
Guilford, where he drank the alcohol, police said. Bishop got into an
accident early the next morning after he got into his pickup truck and
hit a stone wall and two trees, police said.