Car insurance lawsuit moves forward on question of auto-population of electronic signatures

Newswire: Nov. 3, 2017.

Dateline: Charleston, S.C.

A federal judge in South Carolina has denied summary judgment to both the plaintiff and the defendant in a lawsuit brought over electronic signatures, because a genuine issue of material fact had been raised in the lawsuit. The issue concerns whether an electronic signature prepopulated by the defendant in this case constitutes a “meaningful offer” of optional insurance coverage, and whether it also signals the affirmative consent of the buyer.

The plaintiff in the case is suing Progressive Direct Insurance Company, one of the United States’ largest providers of do-it-yourself auto insurance policies online.

In the case, the plaintiff is alleging that Progressive auto-populated a form waiving underinsured motorist coverage for the policy the plaintiff bought. The plaintiff argued that he never signed that provision and that the prepopulated signature didn’t qualify as a meaningful offer of coverage, which Progressive was obligated to make.

Judge David C. Norton of the U.S. District Court for South Carolina said he was “disinclined to agree” with Progressive’s argument that a prepopulated signature would fulfill the requirements of an offer and waiver of underinsured motorist insurance.

The case moves forward without summary judgment for either side. To gain summary judgment, either side would have to show there are no material issues of fact to be decided at trial. The ruling effectively means there is one, and it concerns prepopulated signatures on electronic forms.

Buckley Sander, LLP’s InfoBytes blog has a summary of the ruling here, and the full ruling can be viewed here (.pdf).

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