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STATE FARM MUTUAL
In the Supreme Court of Virginia held at the
Supreme Court Building in the City of Richmond on Friday the 12th
day of May, 2000.
Record No. 992366
Circuit Court No. CL98-300
Frank Raymond Pauley,
State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company,
Upon an appeal from a judgment rendered by the
Circuit Court of Hanover County on the 14th day of July, 1999
Upon consideration of the record, briefs, and
argument of counsel, the Court is of opinion that there is no
error in the judgment of the circuit court.
The issue presented by this appeal is whether
our holding in Cotchan v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co.,
250 Va. 232, 462 S.E.2d 78 (1995) applies on the facts of this
case. In Cotchan, we held that an exclusion in an
automobile liability insurance policy which provided that the
policy’s medical expense coverage did not apply to
"bodily injuries sustained by the named insured or any
relative while occupying any motor vehicle owned by or furnished
or available for regular use of such named insured or relative
and which is not an insured motor vehicle" was not violative
of the provisions of Code ? 38.2-2201 requiring that such
coverage be extended to relatives of a named insured and
permitting the "stacking" of medical expense coverage
for up to four vehicles so insured. Id. at 234-36, 462
S.E.2d at 79-81. In Cotchan, the claimant was the named
insured in a separate policy of insurance issued by a different
insurance company and he had declined medical payments coverage
under that policy. We held that as defined in the policy under
which he sought coverage, his vehicle was not "an insured
vehicle" and, thus, the exclusion applied and barred his
recovery under that policy.
Appellant asserts that the present case can be
distinguished from Cotchan on the grounds that the
separate policy of insurance on his vehicle was issued by the
same company as the policy on his wife’s vehicle under which
he seeks to stack medical expense coverage and that both policies
contained provisions for medical payments coverage. Thus, he
contends, appellee had a known risk that the coverage of the two
policies could be stacked and had accepted premiums for that
risk. We disagree.
The clear import of our holding in Cotchan
is that Code ? 38.2-2201 "does not prohibit reasonable
exclusions of medical expense coverage that are clear and
unambiguous." Id. at 234-35, 462 S.E.2d at 80. The
exclusion here is identical to the one at issue in Cotchan.
Under the definitions of the policy relevant to this exclusion,
an "insured vehicle" is one insured under the same
policy as the vehicle for which medical expense coverage is being
sought, and not merely one insured under a policy issued by the
same company. As such, the exclusion is clear and unambiguous,
and, under the same rationale applied in Cotchan, it is
not violative of Code ? 38.2-2201.
Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is
affirmed. The appellee shall recover thirty dollars damages from
This order shall be certified to the said
circuit court and because we are advised that the issue is one of
significance in proceedings in other circuit courts, this order
shall be published in the Virginia Reports.
David B. Beach,