An insurer’s vehicle policies unambiguously prevent stacking of underinsured coverage for bodily injury. As a result, the available coverage for the injured party is limited to $25,000, instead of a greater amount he claims is available.
Fafa was involved in a car crash with Herbst. Fafa sued Herbst in a separate action in this court for $1.5 million. Herbst’s State Farm policy had a $25,000 limit, which was tendered in exchange for a release of further liability.
Fafa seeks additional coverage from two policies issued by Elephant Insurance. The “Fardin” policy insured the vehicle Fafa was driving when he was injured, along with four other vehicles, each with a separate premium.
The “Khatrah” policy, issued to Fafa’s sister, insured him as a household member. The Fardin policy has first priority. The Khatrah policy has second priority.
Both Fafa and Elephant seek a declaration concerning available UIM bodily coverage. Elephant asserts UIM bodily coverage is $25,000 and that an anti-stacking provision in the Fardin policy prevents combining coverage on each of the five vehicles insured under the policy.
Fafa argues that the available cover is $375,000. He notes that the Fardin policy has a $75,000 single policy limit and the anti-stacking provision for the five vehicles does not apply to UIM bodily coverage.
Both parties have moved for summary judgment.
“Mr. Fafa’s position is that because the monetary figures in the Fardin Declaration do not include ‘per person/per accident’ language to correspond with $25,000/$50,000, it is unclear which figure related to an individual’s coverage and which figure relates to the total coverage per accident for UM/UIM bodily injury. Therefore, the Court should determine that the individual coverage is $75,000.
“Elephant argue that the figures track the language of the Limit of Liability provision of Part C of the Fardin Policy. When harmonizing the two sections, $25,000 unambiguously is the per individual coverage and $50,000 unambiguously is the per accident coverage.
“The Court agrees with Elephant’s position. The Limit of Liability provision refers the reader to the Fardin Declaration and discusses coverage in the order of ‘each person’ and then ‘each accident.’ As such, $25,000 applies to each person, and $50,000 applies to each accident. The Court does not perceive any ambiguity.”
“Mr. Fafa argues that the anti-stacking language found in the last sentence of the above Limit of Liability section does not unambiguously prevent stacking for UM/UIM coverage for bodily injury because it is placed in a paragraph only referencing property damage. …
“The Court finds that the anti-stacking language clearly and unambiguously applies to UM/UIM bodily injury coverage. As UM/UIM bodily coverage cannot exceed bodily injury liability pursuant to Virginia Code § 38.2-2206(A), this interpretation harmonizes the two Limit(s) of Liability provisions of the Fardin Policy to best effectuate the intent of the parties. …
“Consistent with this finding, the Court discerns no basis for why the parties would intend to prohibit stacking for bodily injury liability, property damage liability, and UM/UIM property damage, but not for UM/UIM bodily injury. If the Court were to adopt Mr. Fafa’s reasoning, this would be the outcome.”
The Court grants summary judgment in favor of Elephant[.] … Mr. Fafa’s coverage for bodily injury is $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. Moreover, the anti-stacking language applies to both bodily injury and property damage.”
Elephant Ins. Co. v. Herbst, et al., Case No. CL-2019-15732, April 15, 2021, Fairfax County Cir. Ct. (Shannon) James M. Snyder, Boris Kuperman for the parties. VLW 021-8-064, 6 pp.