Is a wife the agent of her husband for purposes of rejecting UIM Auto Coverage?
In this July 2011 decision, Stiltner v. USAA Casualty, the South Carolina Court of Appeals held that a wife had the authority to act as her husband's agent when she signed a form rejecting UIM coverage on his policy. Although no presumption of agency arises from the mere fact of a marital relationship, the agency relationship can be inferred from the words and conduct of the parties. Based on the deposition testimony of the husband and wife, the Court found that the wife had authority to sign her husband's insurance documents. However, the court refused to decide whether the wife acted within the scope of her authority or whether the husband ratified her actions by failing to correct the denial of UIM after receiving policy declarations at the summary judgment stage.