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McFarland v. Motor Club of America Insurance Co.

Decided: June 29, 1972.

VANDER MCFARLAND, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MOTOR CLUB OF AMERICA INSURANCE COMPANY, DEFENDANT



Francis, J.s.c.

Francis

[120 NJSuper Page 555] Plaintiff Vander McFarland was a passenger in a vehicle owned and operated by Andrew McFarland when that vehicle was involved in a collision with a vehicle owned and operated by Rosa M. Roberts. As a result of the alleged negligent operation of the Roberts vehicle, plaintiff sustained special damages in the approximate amount of $2,530. Rosa M. Robert was uninsured.

Andrew McFarland was insured by Allstate Insurance Co. under an insurance agreement which provided uninsured motorists protection to plaintiff. Allstate paid to plaintiff the $10,000 policy limit, which amount plaintiff alleges was insufficient to fully compensate him for his expenses, personal injuries, pain and suffering.

Plaintiff also carries uninsured motorists protection in his own insurance policy with defendant Motor Club of America. Plaintiff has asserted a claim against Motor Club for whatever amount up to $10,000 by which his total damages exceed the $10,000 policy limit paid to him by Allstate. Assuming plaintiff's damages do exceed the $10,000 already paid him, defendant denies liability therefor. Each party has moved for summary judgment pursuant to R. 4:46-1.

The uninsured motorists protection in the Motor Club policy was offered to plaintiff by legislative mandate. N.J.S.A. 17:28-1.1 reads as follows:

No automobile liability policy or renewal of such policy, of insurance insuring against loss resulting from liability imposed by law for bodily injury or death, sustained by any person arising out of the ownership, maintenance or use of a motor vehicle shall be delivered or issued for delivery in this State * * * unless coverage is offered in connection therewith, in limits for bodily injury or death set forth in [ N.J.S.A. 39:6-69] * * * * for payment of all or part of the sums which the insured or his legal representative shall be legally entitled to recover as damages from the operator or owner of an uninsured automobile, or hit and run automobile * * * because of bodily injury * * * sustained by the insured, caused by accident and arising out of the ownership, maintenance or use of such uninsured or hit and run automobile * * *

Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 17:28-1.2,*fn* plaintiff elected to accept, and therefore received, coverage to the extent of $10,000 for injury or death to one person in one accident with an uninsured motorist.

Plaintiff's insurance policy with Motor Club also contains the following clause, which seemingly restricts the uninsured motorists coverage:

Other insurance: With respect to bodily injury to an insured while occupying an automobile not owned by the named insured, the insurance under Part IV (UM) shall apply only as excess insurance over any other similar insurance available to such insured and applicable to such automobile as primary insurance, and this insurance shall then apply only in the amount by which the limit of liability for this coverage exceeds the applicable limit of liability of such other insurance. * * *

Except as provided in the foregoing paragraph, if the insured has other similar insurance available to him and applicable to the accident, the damages shall be deemed not to exceed the higher of the applicable limits of this insurance and such other insurance, and the company shall not be liable for a greater proportion of any loss to which this coverage applies than the limit of liability hereunder bears to the sum of the applicable limits of liability of this insurance and such other insurance.

Defendant states the second paragraph does not control the case at bar and accordingly confines his argument to the efficacy of the restrictions imposed by the first paragraph. In reference to that paragraph, defendant contends that

Under this construction, Motor Club need only adopt the $10,000 and $20,000 minimums of N.J.S.A. 17:28-1.1 as its maximum coverage offered, in order to escape liability to its insured guest whenever the host-driver has similar coverage. In no instance will the Motor Club coverage be "more extensive" than the "primary ...


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