On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Cumberland County, Docket No. L-653-06.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Lisa and Alvarez.
Plaintiff, Solomon M. Eisenman, appeals from a judgment denying him excess underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage under the umbrella policy issued to him by GEICO.*fn1 The judgment was entered after a bench trial based on a stipulated documentary record. Plaintiff argues that the judge erred because (1) the umbrella policy is inherently ambiguous and the insured's expectations of the added coverage were reasonable, and (2) the judge committed plain error and his conclusions of law were unsupported by the undisputed factual record. We reject plaintiff's arguments and affirm.
Plaintiff suffered serious injuries in an automobile accident on November 1, 2005. Liability was not disputed, and the tortfeasor's insurance carrier paid plaintiff the full $100,000 liability limits in settlement of the claim. Plaintiff then sought to collect UIM benefits from GEICO, which covered him as of the date of the accident with a primary automobile insurance policy and an umbrella policy.
Plaintiff's primary policy contained UIM coverage of $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident ($100,000/$300,000). The umbrella policy contained $1 million coverage, but contained an express exclusion for UIM benefits. As a result, GEICO denied coverage.
The umbrella policy provided in relevant part:
We do not cover damages resulting from:
10. Personal injury to any insured. . . . .
12. Personal injury or property damage resulting from a [UIM] claim unless a premium is shown for the [UIM] coverage in the declarations.
The declaration page did not list a premium for UIM coverage. Further, the umbrella policy defined the term "Declarations" as "the declarations page or pages for this policy" (as opposed to the primary policy). In the coverage provision of the umbrella policy, GEICO agreed to pay "damages on behalf of an insured arising out of an occurrence, subject to the terms and conditions of this policy." The policy defined "damages" as "damages an insured must pay."
Based upon these policy provisions, the trial judge found there was no ambiguity and that the umbrella policy did not provide excess UIM coverage. He also found that plaintiff had no ...