AUTOMOTIVE INSURANCE COMPANY
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(Reuters) – An unnecessary term in the description of the “event” limit for coverage of uninsured motorists has not created ambiguity rendering the limit inapplicable, the 8th United States Court of Appeals ruled on Friday. United.
The three-judge panel unanimously overturned a ruling that Auto-Owners Insurance Company owed $ 3 million in benefits for the death of Dustin Brazil’s wife, the death of one of their children and the injuries of their second child, although all injuries were due to the same tragic collision with an uninsured motorist.
The automobile owners’ policy stated that one million dollars was “the most we will pay” for damages caused to “each person (insured)” or for “each event” involving several insureds. He added that each limit was “subject” to the other.
A federal judge in western Missouri concluded that subjecting the occurrence limit to the individual limit created an ambiguity that had to be interpreted against the insurer.
Circuit 8 agreed that the inclusion of “subject to” in the occurrence limit was completely unnecessary, since the occurrence limit could never be greater than the individual limit. However, the panel said that was not enough to create ambiguity.
“An ambiguity only exists when there are two or more reasonable interpretations of a policy,” the 8th Circuit said. “The single reading proposed by the complainants is unreasonable because it results in an interpretation which makes the limit of” every occurrence “- for which the parties have negotiated – never apply.”
The case is Dustin Brazil et al. v. Auto-Owners Insurance Company, 8th United States Court of Appeals, No. 20-2764.
For Brazil et al: Eryn Peddicord and Ari Rodopoulos from Peddicord & Townsend
For Car Owners: Thomas Michael Ward and Russell Watters of Brown & James