William L. Howell appeals from the grant of summary judgment to Southern Heritage Insurance Company on his claims against Southern Heritage for punitive damages under OCGA 33-4-6
and attorney fees and expenses of litigation under OCGA 13-6-11
. Howell claims that, in bad faith, Southern Heritage refused his demand for payment of personal injury protection ("PIP") benefits.
Howell, a truck driver, was injured unloading one of his employer's trucks. Several months later he filed a claim with Southern Heritage as his PIP insurance carrier. Although Southern Heritage initially questioned coverage, it made a partial payment of $18,000 based upon the opinion of one of Howell's treating physicians that Howell was cured and able to return to work. Then, following an independent medical examination which found that Howell was still disabled, Southern Heritage tendered another payment for the full amount of the PIP benefits due. Howell, however, rejected this payment because an endorsement on the check stated that the payment was for the full amount owed him, and Howell intended to pursue a PIP claim under OCGA 33-4-6
for the penalties authorized when PIP benefits are not timely paid.
Asserting uncertainty whether possible payments under its policy might duplicate those paid by the insurance carrier covering the truck that Howell was unloading when he was injured, Southern Heritage filed a declaratory judgment action. Howell answered and filed a counterclaim for penalties under OCGA 33-4-6
. Following this court's decision in Terry v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 205 Ga. App. 224 (422 SE2d 212)
, holding that penalties under OCGA 33-4 6 were no longer authorized, Howell amended his complaint to assert claims under OCGA 33-4-6
After the trial court granted Southern Heritage's motion for summary judgment, Howell filed this appeal pursuant to OCGA 9-11-56
(h). He contends the trial court erred because the tender of the payment was conditional. Held:
As Howell's counterclaim seeking penalties for bad faith refusal to pay his PIP claim was filed on March 10, 1992, and the letter which constitutes the demand under OCGA 33-4-6
is dated July 6, 1992, the demand was not proper under OCGA 33-4-6
even though Howell subsequently amended his complaint to assert a claim under OCGA 33-4-6
2. Howell's claim for attorney fees and expenses of litigation under OCGA 13-6-11
is not authorized. The penalties contained in OCGA 33-4-6
are the exclusive remedies for an insurer's bad faith refusal to pay insurance proceeds. McCall v. Allstate Ins. Co., 251 Ga. 869 (310 SE2d 513)