Hornick v. Owners Ins. Co., No. 92-2017

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa
Writing for the CourtANDREASEN
Citation511 N.W.2d 370
Decision Date22 December 1993
Docket NumberNo. 92-2017
PartiesEstella L. HORNICK and Merrill David Hornick, Appellees, v. OWNERS INSURANCE COMPANY, Appellant, Milwaukee Guardian Insurance, Inc., Defendant-Appellee, Esther Stephens, Defendant.

Page 370

511 N.W.2d 370
Estella L. HORNICK and Merrill David Hornick, Appellees,
v.
OWNERS INSURANCE COMPANY, Appellant,
Milwaukee Guardian Insurance, Inc., Defendant-Appellee,
Esther Stephens, Defendant.
No. 92-2017.
Supreme Court of Iowa.
Dec. 22, 1993.

Page 371

Randall C. Stravers, Pothoven, Blomgren & Stravers, Oskaloosa, for appellant.

J. Terrence Denefe, Kiple, Kiple, Denefe, Beaver & Gardner, Ottumwa, for appellees.

Allen A. Anderson, Spayde, White & Anderson, Oskaloosa, for defendant-appellee.

Considered by HARRIS, P.J., and LAVORATO, NEUMAN, SNELL, and ANDREASEN, JJ.

ANDREASEN, Justice.

Here we must decide if a pedestrian, who was struck and injured by an underinsured negligent motorist, is entitled to underinsured motorist benefits under her husband's automobile liability insurance policy. The district court concluded the injured pedestrian was an insured under the policy and entitled to underinsured motorist coverage. We reverse and remand based on a policy exclusion.

I. Background.

On May 4, 1990, Estella Hornick was injured when struck by a vehicle driven by Esther Stephens while she was walking in a parking lot. Stephens was insured under an automobile liability policy. At the time of the accident, Estella was the named insured under an automobile policy issued by Milwaukee Guardian Insurance Company (Milwaukee) covering a 1982 Chrysler auto she owned jointly with her husband, Merrill David Hornick. The policy included underinsured motorist coverage of $100,000 per person, per occurrence. Merrill was the named insured under a policy issued by Owners Insurance Company (Owners) covering four vehicles he owned jointly with his wife. This policy provided underinsured motorist coverage of $300,000 per person, per occurrence.

Estella and Merrill filed suit against Stephens claiming damages for personal injury and loss of consortium. They also named as defendants their insurance carriers, Owners and Milwaukee. Milwaukee admitted it provided underinsured motorist coverage to Estella. Owners denied Estella had underinsured motorist coverage under the policy issued to Merrill.

Before trial, Owners filed a motion for summary judgment claiming Estella was not an insured entitled to underinsured motorist coverage because of the terms and exclusions in the policy. District Judge Dan F. Morrison denied Owners' motion.

Later, the case was tried to a jury. The defendants admitted Stephens' negligence and stipulated the existence of Stephens' insurance in the maximum amount of $25,000. The jury awarded Estella bodily injury damages of $39,248.56 and Merrill consortium damages of $1,500.

Hornicks' motion for judgment on the verdicts, which was resisted by Owners, was granted by Judge Phillip R. Collett. The court entered judgment against Stephens for the verdict amount and then, after deducting $25,000, apportioned the underinsured amount between Owners and Milwaukee based upon the limits of underinsured motorist coverage provided by the carriers. Both carriers had "other insurance" clauses which provided for proportional sharing of the loss. This apportionment resulted in a judgment of $11,811.42 plus interest against Owners and a judgment of $3,937.14 plus interest against Milwaukee. Owners appealed from this judgment and from other rulings made by the court.

II. Review.

Our scope of review is for correction of errors at law. Iowa R.App.P. 4. The basic issue presented in this appeal involves the construction and interpretation of terms of an automobile insurance policy.

Construction of an insurance policy--the process of determining its legal effect--is a question of law for the court. Interpretation--the process of determining the meaning of words used--is also a question of law for the court unless it depends on extrinsic evidence or a choice among reasonable inferences to be drawn.

Page 372

A.Y. McDonald Indus. v. INA, 475 N.W.2d 607, 618 (Iowa 1991).

When construing the uninsured and underinsured provisions of an insurance policy it is necessary for us to carefully review both the language of the insurance policy and the provisions of chapter 516A.

Iowa Code chapter 516A authorizes automobile insurance coverage for protection against injuries caused by underinsured motorists and uninsured motorists or hit-and-run vehicles. It is mandatory that such coverage be provided by a motor vehicle liability insurance policy unless such coverage is rejected by the insured.

Tri-State Ins. Co. of Minnesota v. DeGooyer, 379 N.W.2d 16, 18 (Iowa 1985). We recognize:

A statute that authorizes a contract of insurance has application beyond merely permitting or requiring such a policy. The statute itself forms a basic part of the policy and is treated as if it had actually been written into the policy. The terms of the policy are to be construed in light of the purposes and intent of the applicable statute.

Id. at 17 (citations omitted); see also Veach v. Farmers Ins. Co., 460 N.W.2d 845, 847 (Iowa 1990).

III. Scope of Underinsurance Coverage.

Iowa Code chapter 516A provides mandatory protection against uninsured, underinsured, or hit-and-run motorists. We first consider whether the statute requires an insurer to offer insurance protection to an insured person who, as a pedestrian, is injured when struck by an uninsured or underinsured motor vehicle.

The language of chapter 516A makes it clear that the statute was intended to protect persons insured under a liability policy. Protection extends to persons

who are legally entitled to recover damages from the owner or operator of an uninsured ... or an underinsured motor vehicle because of bodily injury ... including death resulting therefrom, caused by accident and arising out of the ownership, maintenance, or use of such uninsured or underinsured motor vehicle....

Iowa Code § 516A.1 (1989). We have construed this section so that uninsured and underinsured...

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23 practice notes
  • Markman v. Westview Instruments, Inc., No. 92-1049
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
    • April 5, 1995
    ...know their meaning--is properly labelled "construction"; it is peculiarly a function of the court. Hornick v. Owners Ins. Co., 511 N.W.2d 370 (Iowa 1993) (insurance Construction of an insurance policy--the process of determining its legal effect--is a question of law for the court......
  • Progressive Cas. Ins. Co. v. Fed. Deposit Ins. Corp., No. C 12–4041–MWB.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
    • January 23, 2015
    ...clauses in clear and explicit terms.” ’ ” Id. (quoting Thomas, 749 N.W.2d at 682, in turn quoting Hornick v. Owners Ins. Co., 511 N.W.2d 370, 374 (Iowa 1993) ). Thus, courts must “strictly construe exclusions against the insurer.” Id. (citing Ferguson v. Allied Mut. Ins. Co., 512 N.W.2d 296......
  • Graham v. Travelers Ins. Co., No. 95,318.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oklahoma
    • December 17, 2002
    ...Bank v. Does, 297 Ark. 254, 760 S.W.2d 863 (1988); McMichael v. Aetna Ins. Co., 878 P.2d 61 (Colo.App.1994); Hornick v. Owners Ins. Co., 511 N.W.2d 370 (Iowa 1993); Kats v. American Family Mut. Ins. Co., 490 N.W.2d 60 (Iowa 1992); Bertini v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins., 48 Ill.App.3d 851, 6 ......
  • Buckeye State Mut. Ins. Co. v. Moens, No. C12-4025-MWB
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
    • March 25, 2013
    ...Boelman, ___N.W.2d___, 2013 WL 387877, at *5 (quoting Thomas, 749 N.W.2d at 682) (quoting in turn Hornick v. Owners Ins. Co., 511 N.W.2d 370, 374 (Iowa 1993) (internal quotation marks omitted)); see Postell, 823 N.W.2d at 41. Thus, exclusions are strictly construed against the insurer, see ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
23 cases
  • Markman v. Westview Instruments, Inc., No. 92-1049
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
    • April 5, 1995
    ...we know their meaning--is properly labelled "construction"; it is peculiarly a function of the court. Hornick v. Owners Ins. Co., 511 N.W.2d 370 (Iowa 1993) (insurance Construction of an insurance policy--the process of determining its legal effect--is a question of law for the court. Inter......
  • Progressive Cas. Ins. Co. v. Fed. Deposit Ins. Corp., No. C 12–4041–MWB.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
    • January 23, 2015
    ...clauses in clear and explicit terms.” ’ ” Id. (quoting Thomas, 749 N.W.2d at 682, in turn quoting Hornick v. Owners Ins. Co., 511 N.W.2d 370, 374 (Iowa 1993) ). Thus, courts must “strictly construe exclusions against the insurer.” Id. (citing Ferguson v. Allied Mut. Ins. Co., 512 N.W.2d 296......
  • Graham v. Travelers Ins. Co., No. 95,318.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oklahoma
    • December 17, 2002
    ...Bank v. Does, 297 Ark. 254, 760 S.W.2d 863 (1988); McMichael v. Aetna Ins. Co., 878 P.2d 61 (Colo.App.1994); Hornick v. Owners Ins. Co., 511 N.W.2d 370 (Iowa 1993); Kats v. American Family Mut. Ins. Co., 490 N.W.2d 60 (Iowa 1992); Bertini v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins., 48 Ill.App.3d 851, 6 ......
  • Buckeye State Mut. Ins. Co. v. Moens, No. C12-4025-MWB
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
    • March 25, 2013
    ...terms.'" Boelman, ___N.W.2d___, 2013 WL 387877, at *5 (quoting Thomas, 749 N.W.2d at 682) (quoting in turn Hornick v. Owners Ins. Co., 511 N.W.2d 370, 374 (Iowa 1993) (internal quotation marks omitted)); see Postell, 823 N.W.2d at 41. Thus, exclusions are strictly construed against the insu......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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