Exclusion In a Policy More Restrictive Than Uninsured Motorist Statute
"where an exclusion in a policy is more restrictive than the uninsured motorist statute, it is void and unenforceable." Watts v. Preferred Risk Mut. Ins. Co., 423 So. 2d 171, 175 (Ala. 1982); accord Higgins v. Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co., 291 Ala. 462, 466, 282 So. 2d 301, 305 (1973).
However, both Watts and Higgins were decided before the Legislature adopted Act No. 84-301, Ala. Acts 1984, which amended 32-7-23. Section 6 of that Act provides:
"All laws or parts of laws which conflict with this act are hereby repealed. Nothing in this act should be construed to abrogate the exclusions, terms, conditions or other provisions of any policy of automobile liability insurance which has been approved by the Insurance Commissioner."
Act No. 84-301 amended, among other statutes, 32-7-23, which was originally enacted as Act No. 866, Ala. Acts 1965 (Reg. Session). That Act contained no language analogous to the language of 6 of Act No. 84-301.
This Court has held that a policy exclusion that "is more restrictive than the uninsured motorist statute ... is void and unenforceable." Watts v. Preferred Risk Mutual Ins. Co., 423 So. 2d 171, 175 (Ala. 1982) (citing Alabama Farm Bureau Mut. Cas. Ins. Co. v. Mitchell, 373 So. 2d 1129 (Ala. Civ. App. 1979). Section 32-7-23 provides:
"(a) No automobile liability or motor vehicle liability policy insuring against loss resulting from liability imposed by law for bodily injury or death suffered 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 with respect to any motor vehicle registered or principally garaged in this state unless coverage is provided therein or supplemental thereto, in limits for bodily injury or death set forth in subsection (c) of Section 32-7-6, under provisions approved by the Commissioner of Insurance for the protection of persons insured thereunder who are legally entitled to recover damages from owners or operators of uninsured motor vehicles because of bodily injury, sickness or disease, including death, resulting therefrom; provided, that the named insured shall have the right to reject such coverage; and provided further, that unless the named insured requests such coverage in writing, such coverage need not be provided in or supplemental to a renewal policy where the named insured had rejected the coverage in connection with the policy previously issued to him by the same insurer."
"Uninsured motorist coverage inures to a person, not a vehicle, and the coverage is not dependent on the insured person being injured in connection with a vehicle which is covered by the liability insurer." St. Paul Ins. Co. v. Henson, 479 So. 2d 1253 (Ala. Civ. App. 1985) (citing State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Jackson, 462 So. 2d 346, 353 (Ala. 1984)).