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Rafanello v. Taylor-Esquivel

New Jersey Appellate Division

November 23, 2020

In Rafanello v. Taylor-Esquivel, the Appellate Division was asked to determine whether “New Jersey law requires a commercial motor vehicle carrier . . . to provide the minimum insurance coverage amount of $750,000, when engaged in interstate or intrastate commerce, . . . even in the event an individual is not listed as a covered driver on the policy.” Here, a dump-truck rear-ended a car and the vehicles’ respective insurers disputed whether a step-down clause in the dump-truck’s insurance policy could be triggered when the dump truck driver was not listed as in the “covered driver” section of the policy. The Appellate Division ruled that N.JS.A. 13:5B-32 and N.J.A.C. 13:60 mandated that a commercial vehicle carry at least $750,000 in financial responsibility. The insurance policy covering the dump truck only carried $35,000 of financial responsibility when the driver is not listed as a covered driver, as was the case in the instant crash. The Appellate Division held that the step-down could not be triggered.

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