Bell v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co – Case Brief Summary (West Virginia)

In Bell v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 157 W. Va. 623, 207 S.E.2d 147 (1974), the Court held that the owned-but-not-insured exclusion was void as against public policy because it conflicted with the requirements of § 33-6-31(b) & (c).

Specifically, the Bell Court looked at both language from subsection (b), requiring that all automobile insurance policies must contain "provisions undertaking to pay the insured all sums which he shall be legally entitled to recover as damages from the owner or operator of an uninsured motor vehicle," , and the corresponding definition of an "insured" contained in subsection (c), defined to mean "the named insured and, while resident of the same household, the spouse of any such named insured, and relatives of either, while in a motor vehicle or otherwise."

The Court noted that the statute makes "no distinctions with regard to an owned but not insured motor vehicle, as the coverage applies to use or occupancy of 'a motor vehicle or otherwise,'" Bell, 157 W. Va. at 627, 207 S.E.2d at 149-50, and went on to hold that "because the [owned-but-not-insured] exclusionary clause[] [is] more restrictive than the uninsured motorist statute or adds requirements not authorized by the uninsured motorist statute, [it is] repugnant to the statute and therefore void," id. at 627, 207 S.E.2d at 150.