Insurance Policy Excluding Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Alabama 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)).
This Court addressed the question whether a policy provision excluding uninsured-motorist coverage to an insured while the insured is driving a motor vehicle not described in the policy is void as violating the Uninsured Motorist Statute. See State Farm Aut. Ins. Co. v. Reaves, 292 Ala. 218, 292 So. 2d 95 (1974).
In Reaves, a brother and the mother of a person who was an insured under two automobile-liability-insurance policies issued by State Farm Insurance Company sought a declaratory judgment holding that that person had coverage under the UIM provision of the automobile policies, for injuries he suffered in an accident in which the uninsured motorcycle he was riding was struck by a truck driven by an uninsured motorist.
State Farm denied UIM coverage, based on a provision in the policies that excluded coverage of bodily injury to an insured that occurred "while occupying or through being struck by a land motor vehicle owned by the named insured or any resident of the same household, if such vehicle was not described in the declarations." the motorcycle was owned by the injured insured's mother; the policies had been issued to the injured person's sister. the injured person, the mother, and the sister were all residents of the same household.
This Court stated:
"In the absence of any language in the statute authorizing the exclusion, no exclusion for injuries suffered while driving a vehicle 'not an owned motor vehicle' (i.e., not listed in that particular policy) may be created by the policy. While there may be some argument which may be made in favor of such an exclusion, the fact remains that the statute mandates coverage and the legislature did not see fit to provide for such an exclusion."
Reaves, 292 Ala. 224, 292 So. 2d at 100. "Reaves stands for the proposition that if a person is insured under the liability coverage provision of a motor vehicle insurance policy and uninsured motorist coverage is not rejected, the uninsured motorist coverage dictated by 32-7-23 cannot be excluded from the policy as to such an insured person." State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Jackson, 462 So. 2d at 350.