The Mississippi Supreme Court upheld a trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of an insurer finding no coverage was owed to an insured who failed to disclose that a 15 year-old resided with the insured, rendering her motor vehicle liability policy void. Jones-Smith v. Safeway Ins. Co., 2015 WL 5157597 (Miss. Sept. 3, 2015).
The insurer sought a declaratory ruling that the insured’s policy was void after the insured’s son was involved in a motor vehicle accident. The insured’s insurance application required her to warrant that she had provided the names of all regular frequent drivers of the covered vehicles, as well as all residents of her household who were 14 years old or older. The insurer argued that the failure to disclose the 15 year-old son resulted in a lower premium and was a material misrepresentation, rendering the policy voidable. The Supreme Court found that the case was not about whether a proper exclusion existed, contrasting the case of Lyons v. Direct Gen. Ins. Co. of Miss., 138 So. 3d 887 (Miss. 2014), where an admittedly valid policy simply excluded the teen. It held the policy void because an untrue statement by either party as to a matter vital to the agreement voids the agreement even where there is no intentional fraud in the misrepresentation.