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Man cannot collect uninsured motorist coverage after accident on motorcycle

September 4, 2014

A man injured in an accident while riding a motorcycle cannot collect under his insurance policy’s uninsured motorist coverage, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Thursday. The judges rejected his claim that the exclusion of motorcycles violates public policy.

Jacob Arnold was riding his Yamaha motorcycle when he was involved in an accident allegedly caused by another driver, who was uninsured. Arnold had just purchased the motorcycle a week earlier and it was not on his auto policy with Progressive Paloverde Insurance at the time of the incident.

Arnold filed a complaint for personal injuries and uninsured motorist proceeds; Progressive sought partial summary judgment on the grounds that the motorcycle is not covered under the policy. The trial court denied the insurer’s motion for summary judgment and certified its order for interlocutory appeal.

Arnold’s policy has uninsured motorist coverage, but it has an exclusion when the bodily injury is sustained while using or occupying a motor vehicle owned by Arnold, other than a covered auto. And the policy’s definitions of auto and covered auto make clear that a motorcycle is excluded from the coverage.

Arnold doesn’t dispute this interpretation of the policy, but claimed the exclusion of motorcycles from his uninsured motorist coverage is contrary to Indiana law and public policy. He cited Veness v. Midland Risk Ins. Co., 732 N.E.2d 209 (Ind. Ct. App. 2000), in support. There, the COA held it was against public policy for an insurance company to exclude an underinsured motorist coverage simply because the insured was occupying a motorcycle where an insured person is legally entitled to recover damages from the owner or operator of an underinsured motorcycle.

“The exclusion in Veness worked to limit coverage based on the type of motor vehicle operated by the negligent party, while the exclusion in this case depends on the insured person’s operation of a vehicle he owns but has not insured,” Judge Margret Robb wrote in Progressive Paloverde Insurance v. Jacob P. Arnold, 49A02-1402-CT-62.  

“Simply stated, Arnold did not qualify as insured under this policy for liability purposes while operating a motorcycle he owned but did not insure through Progressive. Therefore, his policy’s uninsured motorist coverage exclusion regarding use of an owned, uninsured auto is not contrary to public policy.”
 

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