United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division
CERTAIN UNDERWRITERS AT LLOYD'S LONDON SUBSCRIBING TO CERTIFICATE NO. 2178324-004APD, and AMLIN UNDERWRITING, LTD. Plaintiffs,
DEOL TRANSPORT, INC., Defendant.
M. Brinkema United States District Judge.
Memorandum Opinion constitutes the Court's factual
findings and conclusions of law following a bench trial of
this declaratory judgment action brought by plaintiffs
Certain Underwriters at Lloyd's, London Subscribing to
Certificate No. Z178324-004APD and Amlin Underwriting, Ltd.
(collectively, "Certain Underwriters" or
"plaintiffs") against defendant Deol Transport,
Inc. ("Deol Transport" or "defendant"),
in which plaintiffs seek a judgment stating that an insurance
policy they issued to defendant does not cover
defendant's claim for damage to its vehicles because the
employee driving the vehicles was not a covered driver under
the policy. For the reasons that follow, the Court finds that
the policy does not cover defendant's claim.
FINDINGS OF FACT
parties do not dispute the following facts, which the Court
finds have been established. Plaintiffs are an insurance
syndicate. Complaint ¶ 1, 3 Defendant is an interstate
trucking company. Id. ¶ 2. On February 21,
2018, defendant, through its owner Gian Singh Deol
("Deol"), applied for insurance coverage for four
of its vehicles and two of its drivers, Deol and Rajesh Kumar
("Kumar"). DTX 3, at I. The application, which was
signed by Deol, indicated that he had five years of driving
experience and that Kumar had three years of driving
experience. Id. As a result of this application,
plaintiffs issued an insurance policy for automotive property
damage to defendant ("the policy"). DTX 1, at 1.
Defendant obtained the policy as a member of Continental
Trucking Association ("Continental Trucking"),
with the assistance of National Insurance Agency, Inc.
("National Insurance"). Id. PTX 2, at 1.
policy provided, in relevant part, that "[i]n
consideration for the premium paid hereon ... the
Underwriters hereby agree to indemnify the Assured against
direct and accidental loss or damage to the Automobiles
specified in the schedule herein, during the Period of
Insurance specified in the schedule." PTX 4, at 8. Among
other automobiles owned by defendant, the policy schedule
included a 2017 tractor with the Vehicle Identification
Number 3AKJGLDR7HSHD9415 ("the 2017 tractor") and a
2016 trailer with the Vehicle Identification Number
1UYVS2531GU688819 ("the 2016
trailer"). DTX 1, at 2. The 2017 tractor was insured
up to $135, 000, and the 2016 trailer was insured up to $55,
000. Id. The policy also provided that "strict
compliance with the conditions and/or warranties contained in
the contract of insurance is required," and that
"if [the insured] do[es] not strictly comply with the
conditions and/or warranties contained within the contract of
insurance, then the insurer, Certain Underwriters at
Lloyd's, may deny or limit coverage for any claim."
PTX 4, at 7.
not contained within the section labeled
"Exclusions," the policy contained a provision
entitled "Driver Criteria'" ("the Driver
Criteria provision"), which stated:
Every driver must have his/her Motor Vehicle Report (MVR)
approved by Continental Insurance Agency within 7 days of
their employment with the subject trucking firm. They must
comply with the following Driver Criteria, and have a Single
Valid Full Commercial Driving License, endorsed for the
specific type of equipment operated at the time of loss or
damage. If any of the Driver Criteria, including the
following, is not fully complied with, then the driver is not
acceptable or approved and will result in any claim or loss
involving such unacceptable or unapproved driver as being not
covered for any and all coverage's [sic] that might
otherwise have been applicable....
Id. at 14 (emphasis added). Among the specific
criteria listed in the Driver Criteria provision was a
requirement that a "Driver must have a Minimum of two
years [sic] Commercial Truck Driving Experience."
policy issued to defendant also contained a
"Declarations Page" ("the Declarations
Page") and an endorsement, which repeated the
requirement that drivers must satisfy the policy's driver
criteria to be eligible for coverage:
All drivers must meet minimum policy requirements as set
forth by your policy (see attached minimum driver criteria)
before they are hired. All qualified drivers must be
reported immediately upon hiring. Unreported drivers could
cause cancellation of policies or result in an unpaid
DTX 1, at 5 (emphasis added). The policy, including both the
Driver Criteria provision and the Declarations Page, was in
effect throughout March 2018. PTX 4, at 4.
addition to these policy documents, Deol signed two documents
that he received from his broker, National Insurance. The
first document, entitled "Agreement to Report All
Drivers and Vehicles to Policies," stated:
This is a guideline of all commercial vehicle insurance
carriers and a condition for all insured's [sic] to abide
Your commercial insurance policy (Liability, Cargo and
Physical Damage) requires:
All drivers must be reported upon date of hire. Failure to
report all drivers may Jeopardize Coverage if a claim should
occur. Your policy contains an Unreported-Driver endorsement
that limits your policy. Please read your policy very
carefully. . .. Unreported drivers or previously Excluded
Drivers shall be subject to exclusion from the coverage.
Therefore, no coverage will apply. A current and
acceptable MVR must be submitted for approval for all
drivers. I understand this condition and will
report all drivers upon hiring and adding vehicles. Failure
to do so may result in denial of claims.
PTX 2, at 2 (emphasis added). The second document, entitled
"Driver Guidelines," stated:
All new drivers must be reported when hired. Please
send MVR to us and we will provide quick help with
acceptability. Accidents involving unreported drivers may
be cause for adverse underwriting action.
Id. at 3 (emphasis added).
March 12, 2018, National Insurance sent an email to
plaintiffs entitled "Policy Change Request - Deol
Transport, Inc." DTX 4, at 1. This email requested,
among other policy changes, that Sukhwinder Singh
("Sukhwinder") be added to the policy as a covered
driver, and stated that Sukhwinder had a valid Commercial
Driver's License issued in New Jersey in 2015.
Id. The email also included the notation "MVR
same day, defendant hired Tirath Singh ("Singh") as
a driver. PTX 15, at 1. Singh's application for
employment required that he "[l]ist the nature and
extent of [his] experience operating different types of motor
vehicles (e.g. buses, trucks, & trailers)."
Id. Singh listed "5 years" of experience
driving a "car." Id. Singh's
application also required that he provide an "employment
record" in the form of certain information "on all
employers during the previous three years" and "for
all employers [he] ha[d] driven a commercial vehicle for the
last seven years prior 10 [sic] the initial three years
(total often years employment record)." Id. at
2. Singh provided only "N/A" in response to this
question, which the Court interprets as meaning that he had
no employment history during the previous three years, and no
employment history driving commercial vehicles during the
previous ten years. Id. Singh's application was
dated March 11, 2018, one day before he was hired.
Id. at 3. Singh had a valid Commercial Driver's
License issued in New Jersey on February 9, 2018, less than
six weeks before he was hired. PTX 6, at 1. In the letter