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Insurance : Underinsured Motorist Coverage – Set Off – Ambiguity

Stephanie Maniscalco//April 5, 2017

Insurance : Underinsured Motorist Coverage – Set Off – Ambiguity

Stephanie Maniscalco//April 5, 2017

Where an insurer challenged a judgment issued in favor of a driver and her husband that denied the insurer the right to reduce the amount paid pursuant to underinsured motorist coverage by the amount paid by the at-fault motorist’s liability insurer, the policy contained unambiguous set-off provisions, so the judgment is reversed and remanded.

 

Ambiguity

Dissenting opinion by Draper III, J.: “I concur in the principal opinion’s holding reaffirming the principle that insurance companies may issue policies with set-off provisions. However, I respectfully dissent because I would find that Owners Insurance Company’s (hereinafter, ‘Owners’) underinsured motorist coverage policy (hereinafter, ‘UIM’) issued to Vicki and Chris Craig (hereinafter and collectively, ‘Insured’) contained ambiguous provisions….

“Here, Insured chose to pay for $250,000 per person and $500,000 per occurrence in UIM coverage, not $250,000 minus the amount recovered from the underinsured driver who caused more damage than the driver was insured to pay. Because Owners’ policy appears in one section to provide any underinsurance coverage in excess of other coverage and another section prevents the full recovery of the declared policy limits without exception, there is an ambiguity. See Ritchie, 307 S.W.3d at 140–41; Seeck, 212 S.W.3d at 133. Accordingly, I would affirm the trial court’s judgment.”

Judgment is reversed and remanded.

Owners Insurance Company v. Craig (MLW No. 70389/Case No. SC95843 – 6 pages) (Supreme Court of Missouri, Fischer, J.; Breckenridge, C.J., Stith, Wilson and Russell, JJ., concur; Draper, J., dissents in separate opinion filed) Appealed from circuit court, Greene County, Brown, J. (Russell F. Watters and T. Michael Ward, St. Louis, for appellant) (Jeffrey M. Bauer and Steven B. Garner, Springfield, for respondents).

Read the full text of this opinion. (PDF)

 

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