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Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Cases: Two policies trip up injured woman

Missouri_flag A Missouri woman who happened to be in the wrong family car when she was hit by an under-uninsured motorist is out of luck, according to a decision by the Missouri Court of Appeals.

Chastity Vega was driving in her 1993 Dodge Shadow when she was hit and seriously injured by a pickup truck that carried only $25,000 in insurance.  She sought another $50,000 in under-insured motorist (UIM) coverage from her insurance carrier Shelter.  Turns out, however, that the Vegas not only had two cars, Chastity’s Shadow and husband John’s 1988 Chevy S10 Pickup, but they had two policies, not one joint policy.  Both were provided by Shelter, both apparently from the same agent.  But John’s policy had a UIM provision and Chastity’s didn’t.

When Chastity tried to argue that she ought to be able to recover under John’s policy (which offered coverage for family members in non-insured cars) she ran into a provision that excluded coverage for "bodily injury to an insured while occupying a motor vehicle (other than an insured auto) owned by you or a relative."  She argued that this was ambiguous, but the court had no trouble sorting it out.  She was not in an "insured auto" because under John’s policy that meant the Chevy pickup.  Since she was occupying a vehicle "owned by" her that wasn't the Chevy, she could not recover.

Vega v. Shelter Mut. Ins. Co., No. WD 64135, 2005 Mo. App. LEXIS 342 (W.D. March 1, 2005).

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