Krech v. Hanson, No. 91-0130

CourtCourt of Appeals of Wisconsin
Writing for the CourtCANE
Citation164 Wis.2d 170,473 N.W.2d 600
Decision Date30 July 1991
Docket NumberNo. 91-0130
PartiesDouglas KRECH, Plaintiff-Appellant, d v. Palmer HANSON, Allstate Insurance Company, Pierce County, St. Croix County, Employer's Insurance of Wausau, a mutual company, and Northern States Power Company, Defendants, IDS Property Casualty Insurance Company, f/k/a Wisconsin Employer's Casualty Company, Defendant-Respondent.

Page 600

473 N.W.2d 600
164 Wis.2d 170
Douglas KRECH, Plaintiff-Appellant, d
v.
Palmer HANSON, Allstate Insurance Company, Pierce County,
St. Croix County, Employer's Insurance of Wausau,
a mutual company, and Northern States
Power Company, Defendants,
IDS Property Casualty Insurance Company, f/k/a Wisconsin
Employer's Casualty Company, Defendant-Respondent.
No. 91-0130.
Court of Appeals of Wisconsin.
Submitted on Briefs June 28, 1991.
Opinion Released July 30, 1991.
Opinion Filed July 30, 1991.

Page 601

[164 Wis.2d 171] Ardell W. Skow of Doar, Drill & Skow, S.C., Baldwin, on the brief, for plaintiff-appellant.

Theodore A. Franti of Weisel, Thrasher, Doyle & Pelish, Ltd., Rice Lake, on the brief, for defendant-respondent.

Before CANE, P.J., and LaROCQUE and MYSE, JJ.

CANE, Presiding Judge.

Douglas Krech appeals a decision granting IDS Property Casualty Insurance Company's [164 Wis.2d 172] motion for summary judgment. Krech argues that the trial court erred by determining that the truck driven by Palmer Hanson did not fall within the definition of an underinsured motor vehicle in Krech's policy and, therefore, Krech was not entitled to collect any benefits from his underinsured motorist provision. For the reasons that follow, we affirm the trial court's decision.

Krech was injured in a motor vehicle accident as a passenger in a truck driven by Hanson. The truck was insured by Allstate Insurance Company with liability coverage limitations of $100,000 per person. Krech qualifies as an additional insured under his brother's policy provided by IDS. The IDS policy covers two vehicles. A separate premium was charged per vehicle. With respect to each vehicle policy there was underinsured coverage limits of $100,000 per person.

The IDS policy defines an underinsured motor vehicle as "a motor vehicle for which there is a bodily injury policy or liability bond available at the time of the car accident which provides bodily injury liability limits less than the limit of liability for this coverage." (Emphasis added.) The sole issue on appeal is whether Hanson's car is an underinsured motor vehicle under the terms of the IDS policy. Because Hanson's vehicle does not qualify as an underinsured vehicle, Krech is not entitled to recover under the underinsured provisions of the IDS policy.

Krech asks us to stack the $100,000 underinsured motorist coverage for each vehicle on his policy to find that Hanson's truck qualifies as an underinsured vehicle. In other words, he asks this court to stack the amounts on the policy before we decide if there is coverage. If we do this, he argues, he would have $200,000 underinsured coverage. Comparing his $200,000 coverage to the $100,000 liability policy on Hanson's truck, the truck would qualify under the policy definition of an underinsured[164 Wis.2d 173] motor vehicle. We reject Krech's argument and hold that coverage must be determined prior to the "stacking" of insurance policies.

Wisconsin law provides that although two motor vehicles may be listed as insured on one document, if separate premiums

Page 602

are paid with regard to each vehicle, the document in fact represents two separate policies. Burns v. Milwaukee Mut. Ins. Co., 121 Wis.2d 574, 578, 360 N.W.2d 61, 63-64 (Ct.App.1984). Here, because the policy that insures Krech contains two separate premiums paid for two $100,000 limits on underinsured motor vehicle coverage, we start from the premise that this document contains two separate policies. Therefore, the first step in our analysis is to determine whether each policy separately provides coverage for this loss. Only if both policies provide indemnification against the "same loss" do we stack the amounts. 1 Because we find that neither policy provides indemnification for this loss, this is not a stacking case.

In order to determine whether coverage is afforded under the provisions of an insurance contract, we first look to the language of the contract. The construction of [164 Wis.2d 174] language in an insurance policy is a question of law that we review de novo. Lambert v. Wrensch, 135 Wis.2d 105, 115, 399 N.W.2d 369, 373-374 (1987). We cannot alter the unambiguous language of an insurance policy. Schroeder v. Blue Cross & Blue Shield, 153 Wis.2d 165, 173, 450 N.W.2d 470, 473 (Ct.App.1989).

The recent case, Smith v. Atlantic Mut. Ins. Co., 155 Wis.2d 808, 456 N.W.2d 597 (1990), is helpful. In that case, Smith and Goulias were involved in an accident. Atlantic Mutual, Smith's insurance company defined an underinsured motor vehicle...

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26 practice notes
  • State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Gillette, No. 00-0637.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wisconsin
    • March 29, 2002
    ...3, 8 n.2, 383 N.W.2d 876 (1986) (underinsured motorist coverage protects against the inadequately insured motorist)); Krech v. Hanson, 164 Wis. 2d 170, 175 n.2, 473 N.W.2d 600 (Ct. App. 1991) (underinsured motorist coverage compensates the victim of an underinsured motorist's negligence whe......
  • Taylor v. Greatway Ins. Co., No. 99-1329.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Wisconsin
    • February 17, 2000
    ...N.W.2d 525, 530 (1987)). ¶ 9. American Family contends that Taylor may not recover based on the holdings of Smith and Krech v. Hanson, 164 Wis. 2d 170, 473 N.W.2d 600 (Ct. App. 1991), because one must first determine whether the tortfeasor meets the definition of an underinsured motorist be......
  • Taylor v. Greatway Ins. Co., No. 99-1329.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wisconsin
    • July 6, 2001
    ...policies individually to determine whether the other vehicle satisfies a policy definition of underinsured motorist. Krech v. Hanson, 164 Wis. 2d 170, 172-73, 473 N.W.2d 600 (Ct. App. 7. The relevant language of Wis. Stat. § 344.33(2) provides that: A motor vehicle policy of liability insur......
  • Hoglund v. Secura Ins., No. 93-0037-FT
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Wisconsin
    • April 13, 1993
    ...should be construed against the insurer, American States. We agree. American [176 Wis.2d 270] States points to Smith and Krech v. Hanson 164 Wis.2d 170, 175 n. 2, 473 N.W.2d 600, 602-03 n. 2 (Ct.App.1991), contending that Hoglund's arguments were previously rejected. However, the unique cir......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
26 cases
  • State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Gillette, No. 00-0637.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wisconsin
    • March 29, 2002
    ...3, 8 n.2, 383 N.W.2d 876 (1986) (underinsured motorist coverage protects against the inadequately insured motorist)); Krech v. Hanson, 164 Wis. 2d 170, 175 n.2, 473 N.W.2d 600 (Ct. App. 1991) (underinsured motorist coverage compensates the victim of an underinsured motorist's negligence whe......
  • Taylor v. Greatway Ins. Co., No. 99-1329.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Wisconsin
    • February 17, 2000
    ...N.W.2d 525, 530 (1987)). ¶ 9. American Family contends that Taylor may not recover based on the holdings of Smith and Krech v. Hanson, 164 Wis. 2d 170, 473 N.W.2d 600 (Ct. App. 1991), because one must first determine whether the tortfeasor meets the definition of an underinsured motorist be......
  • Taylor v. Greatway Ins. Co., No. 99-1329.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wisconsin
    • July 6, 2001
    ...policies individually to determine whether the other vehicle satisfies a policy definition of underinsured motorist. Krech v. Hanson, 164 Wis. 2d 170, 172-73, 473 N.W.2d 600 (Ct. App. 7. The relevant language of Wis. Stat. § 344.33(2) provides that: A motor vehicle policy of liability insur......
  • Hoglund v. Secura Ins., No. 93-0037-FT
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Wisconsin
    • April 13, 1993
    ...should be construed against the insurer, American States. We agree. American [176 Wis.2d 270] States points to Smith and Krech v. Hanson 164 Wis.2d 170, 175 n. 2, 473 N.W.2d 600, 602-03 n. 2 (Ct.App.1991), contending that Hoglund's arguments were previously rejected. However, the unique cir......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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