Coverage for Mobile Crane Limited

Personal Injury

In the case of People’s Trust Insurance Company v. Progressive Express Insurance Company, Case Number 3D19-1952 (Fla. 3rd DCA December 8, 2021), Florida’s Third DCA held that a mobile crane used to lift a shed was not covered under an automobile insurance policy while the crane was being used and the vehicle was not being driven down the roadway.

Facts of the Case

This case began when the homeowners contracted for the installation of a shed on their property. The shed installer needed a crane to deliver and install the shed. The crane operator was required to life the shed over the homeowners’ home in order to reach the proper location. During installation, the crane operator somehow caused the shed to fall and damaged the roof of the home. The homeowner’s policy paid for the roof and then sued Progressive under the automobile insurance policy covering the mobile crane for negligence.

The trial judge found no coverage under Progressive’s policy and this appeal ensued.

Analysis and Appeal

Without exhausting details. this case turned on the definition of “mobile equipment.” Clearly a crane that is permanently attached to the back of a Ford F-750 truck is a piece of mobile equipment. Further, clearly, the Ford F-750 truck is an “insured auto” or “motor vehicle” and would be required to meet Florida’s financial responsibility laws in order to operate on the roadway from job to job. That is not what this case is about.

Instead, this case is about Progressive’s exclusion for “mobile equipment” contained in the auto policy and how convoluted an insurance policy can be.

First, the definition of “mobile equipment” would include a crane but for the fact that it was permanently fitted to the back of a truck. However, the fact that the crane was fitted to the back of the truck does not mean that the auto policy covers everything that the crane does. Likewise, Progressive’s auto policy excludes damages for bodily injury or property damage caused by the operation of machinery or equipment, even if it is attached to a vehicle that is required to meet financial responsibility laws.

This decision stands to reason. When the truck is being operated on the roadway as a truck, then Progressive’s auto policy covers it just like any other motor vehicle. On the other hand, when the truck is being operated as a crane (i.e. machinery or equipment), then Progressive’s auto policy excludes coverage. At that point, the crane operator would need some form of other insurance that covers negligence while operating the crane.

The result in this case limits the applicability of an automobile policy to operations of a mixed use vehicle being operated on the roadways rather than any and all negligence that may be had during its operation.

Talk To A Lakeland Personal Injury Lawyer About Your Case

If you have an injury case and need to speak with an attorney for details about how to pursue your case, contact Russo Law for a free consultation. Cases are accepted on a contingency fee basis. There are no fees or costs unless you win.

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December 08, 2021