Ballesteros v. American Standard Insurance Company of Wisconsin

In Ballesteros v. American Standard Insurance Company of Wisconsin, 226 Ariz. 345, 348-49,13-14, 248 P.3d 193, 196-97 (2011), the supreme court held that the statute did not require an insurer to submit the offer to the buyer in Spanish or another language when the buyer might not be fluent in English. 226 Ariz. at 349-50,17-18, 22-23, 248 P.3d at 197-98. The court reasoned that nothing in the statute required alternative languages, that inserting such a requirement could require the insurers' agents to determine whether the customer is fluent in English and that such a requirement would be based on the customer's subjective, rather than an objective, understanding of the offer. Id. The statute uses the term "offer," which the supreme court has construed as meaning that a potential objective buyer would understand that acceptance would be binding and the matter concluded. Id. at 348-49,13-14, 248 P.3d at 196-97. In Ballesteros, the Arizona Supreme Court addressed whether an offer of UM/UIM coverage to a Spanish-speaking insured must be in Spanish. The court held that A.R.S. 20-259.01, by its express terms, did not require a Spanish offer form. Ballesteros, 226 Ariz. at 349,15, 248 P.3d at 197. The court concluded that "if the legislature desires to add such a requirement, it may do so . . . but it is not our place to rewrite the statute." Id., 226 Ariz. at 349,17, 248 P.3d at 197. The supreme court examined whether UM coverage offered by way of an English language form to a Spanish speaker constituted a valid offer to make such coverage available. Id. The court concluded the notice was sufficiently clear that a reasonable reader would understand that coverage was being offered that, "if accepted, would bind the insurer to provide the offered coverage." Id. at 349,11, 248 P.3d at 196.