Limpert v. Smith, s. 130

Decision Date03 January 1973
Docket Number131,Nos. 130,s. 130
Citation56 Wis.2d 632,203 N.W.2d 29
PartiesDaniel LIMPERT, Jr., a minor, by Glenn L. Sharratt, his guardian ad litem, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. Robert J. SMITH et al., Defendants-Appellants, American Standard Insurance Company et al., Defendants-Respondents, Francis Czarnecki et al., Third-Party Defendants-Appellants. Francis CZARNECKI, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Robert J. SMITH et al., Defendants-Appellants, American Standard Insurance Company et al., Defendants-Respondents.
CourtWisconsin Supreme Court

Fulton, Menn & Nehs Ltd., Appleton, Peter S. Nelson, Appleton, of counsel, for appellants.

Bradford & Gabert, Appleton, for respondents.

BEILFUSS, Justice.

Does the insurance policy issued to a father who sponsored his son's driver's license include coverage for the father's imputed negligence and liability resulting from the son's negligence in operating the son's own car?

The policy in question provides, on behalf of the named insured, coverage for all sums which the insured shall become legally obligated to pay as damages because of bodily injury or property damage which arises out of the ownership, maintenance or use of the owned automobile or any nonowned automobile. Gregory's 1963 Chevrolet is not an owned automobile and is not included as a nonowned automobile within the meaning of this policy. An owned automobile is defined as a private passenger automobile owned by the named insured. The named insured is Robert J. Smith and the owned automobile insured is the 1966 Buick. A nonowned automobile is defined as an automobile not owned by the named insured or any resident of the same household. Gregory's 1963 Chevrolet is excluded as a nonowned automobile because Gregory owns the Chevrolet, is Robert's son which makes him a relative, 1 and a resident of the same household. 2 Therefore neither Gregory nor his car were insured under Part I, Coverages A and B of the American Family policy. This is because the car he operated when the accident occurred was a car owned by a resident of the same household and not described in the policy. Therefore the car that Gregory owned was excluded from the 'drive other cars' liability provisions of the policy.

The purpose of defining and limiting the meaning of these terms with respect to these coverage provisions in the automobile liability policies (which terms exclude liability arising out of the use of another automobile owned by or regularly used by a member of an insured's household) is to avoid coverage for several vehicles owned by members of the same family who, by their close relationship might be expected to use each other's cars without hindrance and with or without permission. Without this limitation a person could purchase just one policy on only one automobile and thereby secure coverage for all the other vehicles he may own or vehicles the members of his family own while residents of the same household. National Farmers Union Property & Casualty Co. v. Maca (1965), 26 Wis.2d 399, 405, 132 N.W.2d 517; Giese v. Karstedt (1966), 30 Wis.2d 630, 637, 141 N.W.2d 886; and McDonald v. Aetna Casualty & Surety Co. (1970), 47 Wis.2d 235, 177 N.W.2d 101. There is no doubt that a car owner can insure all of the automobiles he owns, but he cannot do so under a policy describing only one such automobile and omitting all others owned by him or by household relatives. McDonald v. Aetna Casualty & Surety Co., supra.

Appellants next contend that since Part I--Liability, Persons Insured, c., states that any other person legally responsible for the use of an automobile not owned by such person is an insured under Part I, Coverages A and B--such definition thereby provides coverage in the instant case. The appellants reason that since the liability of Robert J. Smith as a sponsor of Gregory is imposed by law under sec. 343.15(2), Stats., and not dependent on which car is being used, Robert J. Smith is thereby a person legally responsible for his son's use of an automobile not owned by him within the policy. This particular provision standing alone would indicate that such coverage does exist. However, this court has consistently held that in construing a particular provision in an insurance policy, other provisions, and in fact the entire policy, should be considered to ascertain the true intent of the parties and the policy's coverage. Leatherman v. American Family Mut. Ins. Co. (1971), 52 Wis.2d 644, 190 N.W.2d 904, and Tischendorf v. Lynn Mut. Fire Ins. Co. (1926), 190 Wis. 33, 208 N.W. 917. In this case, Part I--Liability--coverage under A and B is still limited to only owned and nonowned automobiles. So a person insured under 'Persons Insured c.' is also thereby limited by the scope of coverage provisions A and B. The words 'not owned' under 'Persons Insured c.' do not broaden coverage because these are the exact words which help to define a nonowned automobile--that is, 'nonowned' means an automobile 'not owned' by the named insured or any resident of the same household. Further, paragraph 2 of Condition 4 of the policy, supra, specifically states that the policy does not apply to any automobile owned by the named insured or any relative not described in the declaration of this policy. The only automobile described in the policy's declaration is the 1966 Buick--not the 1963 Chevrolet owned by the named insured's son. The policy also specifically provides that the conditions in paragraph 2 of Condition 4 applies to all coverages in American Family's policy. Therefore the policy construed as a whole excludes coverage for the father as his son's sponsor under the facts of this case.

The appellants argue that the policy must be...

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