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Safeguard Insurance Co. v. Herold

Decided: November 18, 1975.

SAFEGUARD INSURANCE COMPANY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
RICHARD HEROLD AND EDA HEROLD, DEFENDANTS



Gaynor, J.c.c.

Gaynor

In this action plaintiff seeks to recover from defendant the sum of $480, being the amount claimed to have been erroneously included in a payment to defendant for a theft loss under a homeowner's policy issued by plaintiff. Although plaintiff reimbursed defendant in accordance with the proof of loss submitted, it now contends that one of the items, a minicycle, was not covered by the policy and that the amount representing the value of that article, namely $480, was mistakenly paid. The matter has been submitted to the court on the pleadings and memoranda.

Plaintiff bases its contention of noncoverage on the following provisions of the insurance policy:

Coverage C -- Unscheduled Personal Property:

1. On premises: This policy covers unscheduled personal property usual or incidental to the occupancy of the premises as a dwelling, owned, worn or used by an Insured, while on the premises, or at the option of the Named Insured, owned by others while on the portion of the premises occupied exclusively by the Insured.

Exclusions:

Plaintiff argues that a minicycle is not an article of personal property which is usual or incidental to the occupancy of the premises as a dwelling inasmuch as it has no relationship to the use or occupancy of the home. Rather, such an article is used solely by and for the convenience and enjoyment of the rider. Thus, it does not come within the coverage terms applicable to unscheduled personal property. Further,

plaintiff asserts that a minicycle is specifically excluded from coverage under the above-quoted policy exclusion. It is contended that although the cycle was not licensed for road use, it was registered with the State as a vehicle, and while its operation was therefore limited to private property, it nevertheless was similar in all other respects to a licensed motorcycle and potentially usable as such.

Defendant states that the article in question is designated by the manufacturer as a minicycle and is designed for recreational use on private property. Further he alleges that the cycle was so used by his son. Defendant characterizes the minicycle as being similar to other playthings of children and, as such, an article of personal property which is usual and incidental to a family's occupancy of their dwelling. He disputes the assertion of plaintiff that coverage is excluded under the provision for licensed motor vehicles, stating that the registration with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles pertained only to ownership and not licensing.

Defendant's description of the cycle and the nature of its use is not controverted.

With respect to plaintiff's contention that the cited exclusionary provision of the policy is applicable, we would note that under the broad definitions of a "motor vehicle" and a "motorcycle," as set forth in our statutes relating to motor vehicles, the vehicle in question would be subject to registration regulations imposed by those statutes. N.J.S. 39:1-1. Accordingly, the owner thereof is required to register the ownership of the vehicle and have a certificate of ownership issued to him. N.J.S. 39:10-11. Also, if the vehicle is to be used on the public highways, it must be licensed for such use and a registration certificate received. N.J.S. 39:3-4. The licensing registration requirements are related to the use of the vehicle, i.e. , operation upon public highways, rather than the type or ...


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