Cammel v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 43683

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Washington
Writing for the CourtHOROWITZ; STAFFORD
Citation86 Wn.2d 264,543 P.2d 634
PartiesJames H. CAMMEL, Respondent, v. STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY, Appellant.
Docket NumberNo. 43683,43683
Decision Date18 December 1975

Page 264

86 Wn.2d 264
543 P.2d 634
James H. CAMMEL, Respondent,
v.
STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY, Appellant.
No. 43683.
Supreme Court of Washington, En Banc.
Dec. 18, 1975.

Page 265

[543 P.2d 635] Nashem, Prediletto, Brooks & Schussler, Don W. Schussler, Yakima, for appellant.

Halverson, Appelgate, McDonald, Bond, Grahn, Wiehl & Almon, David H. Putney, Yakima, for respondent.

HOROWITZ, Associate Justice.

This case considers the amount of uninsured motorist coverage available to a husband and wife insured on three separate automobile insurance liability policies issued to them on three separate vehicles by one insurer. The question presented is the meaning and the validity of the pro rata clause of the 'Other Insurance' exclusion, which applies to the uninsured motorist coverage contained in each policy.

The facts are these. During their lifetimes the insureds, husband and wife, purchased three separate policies, each on a different automobile owned by them, each providing uninsured motorist coverage of $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident. The insureds were killed when their vehicle collided with a car driven by an uninsured motorist. Plaintiff James H. Cammel, the administrator of his parents' estate, requested the insurer, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, to agree to arbitrate the amount due on his parents' insurance, as permitted by the policies, upon condition the insurer agree to pay any award up to $90,000. The insurer refused, claiming the pro rata clause applicable to the provision for uninsured motorist coverage in each of the policies limited the insureds' maximum recovery to a total of $30,000.

Plaintiff then brought this action for a declaratory judgment, to obtain a ruling declaring the combined uninsured motorist coverage of the insureds' policies subject to the arbitration procedure provided for in those policies was $90,000. The trial court agreed, and held the insurer must arbitrate the claims based upon a maximum liability of $90,000.

The insurer contends the pro rata clause of the 'Other Insurance' exclusion in each policy is valid, so that plaintiff is limited to a maximum recovery of $10,000 under the

Page 266

uninsured motorist coverage of each policy, or a total of $30,000.

The pro rata clause in each policy states:

Subject to the foregoing paragraph, under Coverage U if the Insured has other similar insurance available to him against a loss covered by this coverage, then the damage shall be deemed not to exceed the higher of the applicable limits of liability of this insurance and such other insurance, and the company shall not be liable under this coverage for a greater proportion of the applicable limit of liability of this coverage than such limit bears to the sum of the applicable limits of liability of this insurance and such other insurance.

Plaintiff, responding, contends (1) the pro rata clause has the effect of reducing the minimum uninsured motorist coverage required in each policy by RCW 48.22.030 and RCW 46.29.490, and (2) that a construction of the three policies which reduces recovery to no more than what the insured would have obtained under one policy is unreasonable when a separate premium has been paid and accepted by the insurer for each policy. We agree with plaintiff and affirm the judgment below.

Coverage U (uninsured motorist coverage) is included in the three policies pursuant to RCW 48.22.030, which provides:

(N)o new policy or renewal . . . shall be delivered or issued . . . in [543 P.2d 636] this state with respect to any motor vehicle registered or principally garaged in this state unless coverage is provided therein or supplemenal thereto, in limits for bodily injury or death set forth in RCW 46.29.490 ($15,000 per person, $30,000 per accident), for the protection of persons insured thereunder who are legally entitled to recover damages from owners or operations of uninsured motor vehicles . . .

In addition, RCW 48.18.130 requires insurance contracts to contain 'such standard provisions as are required by the applicable chapters of this code pertaining to contracts of particular kinds of insurance.' RCW 48.18.130(2) provides:

No insurance contract shall contain any provision inconsistent with or contradictory to any such standard

Page 267

provision used or required to be used . . . No endorsement, rider, or other documents attached to such contract shall vary, extend, or in any respect conflict with any such standard provision, or with any modification thereof so approved by the commissioner as being more favorable to the insured.

The requirement of RCW 48.22.030 and RCW 48.18.130(2), that each automobile liability insurance policy issued in Washington shall offer uninsured motorist coverage of $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident, is unambiguous and mandatory. A literal reading of the statute precludes any suggestion this requirement is satisfied by a single uninsured motorist coverage in these amounts when the injured person is insured under more than one policy applicable to the accident. We conclude, therefore,...

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39 cases
  • Blackburn v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 15142
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    ...clause in a liability policy violated RCW 48.22.030 and RCW 48.18.130(2). Cammel v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 86 Wash.2d 264, 543 P.2d 634 "Washington is not alone in refusing to give its uninsured motorist statutes a narrow and grudging interpretation which is so literal as to defeat......
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