What is an "Owned Vehicle Exclusion"? First you need to understand that UM coverage and UIM coverage are the type of coverage that follows the insured person, not the vehcile if they are hurt by a negligence driver with either no insurance (uninsured motorist or "UM") or with little insurance (under-insured motorist or "UIM"). For discussion about different types of auto insurance liability coverage in Missouri see: Uninsured and Under-insured Motorist Coverage - Breaking Down Car Insurance Coverage in Missouri. The "owned vehicle exclusion" tries to say if you are injured while operating a vehicle not included on the insurance company's policy you have with them that includes UIM or UM coverege, then they claim the UM or UIM coverage does not cover you because you were operating a vehicle not covered by them.
In a Missouri Supreme Court opinion just issued January 8, 2013, the Missouri Supreme Court overturned the trial court holding that the injured victim in a St Charles motorcycle crash has insurance limits of $400,000 available under his under-insured ("UIM") motorist coverage because he has separate UIM policies on 4 different vehicles and the four separate $100,000 UIM coverage policies "stack" to equal a total of $400,000 in available UIM insurance coverage for the motorcycle accident injuries. Additionally, holding that the "owned vehicle exclusion" under the policies did not apply to deny coverage of the UIM amounts. See Missouri Supreme Court Opinion in Manner v. Schiermeier, SC # SC92408 issued 1/8/2013.
The trial Judge in St Charles County and the Eastern District Court of Appeals both denied the coverage to the injured victim holding that the UIM policies were not recoverable under the "owned vehicle exclusion". These owned-vehicle exclusions state: "This coverage does not apply for bodily injury to a person: ... While occupying, or when struck by, a motor vehicle that is not insured under this policy if it is owned by you or any resident of your household.". The insurance company claimed that the injured cyclist owned the motorcycle he was riding when hurt and that, because it was insured under a different policy than the ones insuring the other three vehicles, this owned-vehicle exclusion precluded coverage under those policies.
This case turned on very specific facts and the Supreme Court's view that the insurance company did not prove ownership and that the policy's definition of ownership was vague and ambiguous, therefore, any ambiguity is construed in favor of the insured and against the insurance company. In this case the victim had partially paid his uncle for the motorcycle and was in possession of it, however, he did not have title to the bike and had not paid it off, therefore, it was argued that he did not "own" the motorcycle. "Ownership" was not defined by the insurance policy, so the court leaned to the injured motorcycle rider when interpreting the policy provisions that were vague.
The St Charles motorcycle lawyers that handled this case did an excellent job getting the maximum recovery for their client. This is an example of why it is so important to hire good lawyers to navigate your way through an injury claim or lawsuit. Having a Missouri personal injury attorney in this case meant the difference between $100,000 recovery and a $400,000 recovery.
If you have been hurt, call us, (314) 863-0500 or contact us online.