Eleventh Circuit: If You Wanted Your Maserati Covered, You Should Have Covered Your Maserati

You don’t have to be a lawyer to know that the “I didn’t read what I signed” excuse isn’t going to fly–especially when the thing you didn’t read is the insurance policy on your new $100,000+ Maserati.

But that didn’t stop Florida resident Clifford Oretsky from trying. After his $110,000 Maserati Quattroporte was stolen from his driveway (#firstworldproblems), he sought coverage under what he thought was his “standard” auto policy–you know, the kind that will cover you if your car gets stolen.

What Oretsky actually had, however, was a “Classic Collector’s” policy. Which he would have known had he bothered to read all the insurance forms he received from his agent before he signed them. Which, of course, he didn’t.

But if he had, he would have found out that his policy required that he:

  1. Keep the Maserati in a locked garage when not in use;
  2. Drive the Maserati less than 5,000 miles a year; and
  3. Not use the Maserati for backup transportation.

Having not read his policy, however, Oretsky did none of that. In fact, he drove the car over 13,000 miles in the first year he owned it. He also sometimes parked it in the driveway instead of in his garage. Why? Because he claimed the car had “special mufflers” that made a lot of noise, and he didn’t want to wake his kid when he started the car in the morning. (Which reminds me of the Harley riders in that South Park episode.)

When his insurer denied coverage, Oretsky sued and then lost at the summary judgment stage for failing to comply with the conditions precedent to coverage. Though he claimed he was unaware of them, the trial court held that he must have known about the conditions precedent because he signed and initialed a policy application for that very coverage. Go figure!

On appeal, Oretsky tried a couple of other arguments to get around the policy terms, such as ambiguity and estoppel, but those arguments didn’t even get out of the driveway. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the summary judgment against Oretsky, finding no coverage for the Maserati–which is exactly what Oretsky failed to do in the first place.

I assume Oretsky read the opinion.

About Brian Jones

I represent clients in all aspects of business litigation, but focus my practice on complex litigation and arbitration matters concerning insurance and reinsurance, antitrust, class actions, securities, real estate disputes, and contract matters. I am the co-chair of the Bose McKinney & Evans Insurance Group. I was listed in the 2017 and 2016 "Best Lawyers in America" for Insurance Coverage and named a "Rising Star" in Insurance Coverage by Super Lawyers in Indiana in 2014. I was also named a "Rising Star" in Business Litigation by Super Lawyers in Indiana in 2013 and 2012, and a 2010 “Rising Star” in Business Litigation in Texas. I am a member of the State Bars of Indiana and Texas, the Defense Research Institute, a former member of the Pro Bono College of the State Bar of Texas, and I am licensed to practice before all state courts in Indiana and Texas, as well as all federal courts in Indiana, the Northern, Western, and Southern Districts of Texas, the Northern District of Illinois, and the United States Courts of Appeals for the Fifth, Seventh, and Eleventh Circuits. I received my bachelor’s degree, cum laude, in political science and my master’s degree in teaching from Trinity University, where I was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. I received my doctor of jurisprudence degree from the University of Texas School of Law, where I was the Director of Communications for the Legal Research Board and a member of the Phi Delta Phi Honor Society. Before attending law school, I taught high school geography, government and economics in San Antonio, Texas.
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