Spaur v. Allstate Ins. Co.

Citation1996 WL 714486,942 P.2d 1261
Decision Date12 December 1996
Docket NumberNo. 95CA1115,95CA1115
Parties20 Colorado Journal 1833 Richard E. SPAUR, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. ALLSTATE INSURANCE COMPANY, a Foreign Corporation, Defendant-Appellee. . IV
CourtCourt of Appeals of Colorado

Page 1261

942 P.2d 1261
20 Colorado Journal 1833
Richard E. SPAUR, Plaintiff-Appellant,
ALLSTATE INSURANCE COMPANY, a Foreign Corporation, Defendant-Appellee.
No. 95CA1115.
Colorado Court of Appeals,
Div. IV.
Dec. 12, 1996.
Rehearing Denied Jan. 16, 1997.
Certiorari Denied Sept. 15, 1997.

Page 1262

Barbara J. Furutani, Denver, for Plaintiff-Appellant.

Holland & Hart, Brian Muldoon, Denver, for Defendant-Appellee.

Opinion by Judge DAVIDSON.

This is an appeal from a declaratory judgment entered by the trial court in favor of defendant, Allstate Insurance Company, which determined that plaintiff, Richard E. Spaur, was not entitled to payment for his loss of consortium claim under his uninsured motorist policy. The issue presented is whether the provision of the policy which aggregates derivative claims with the claims of the person primarily injured is ambiguous or in violation either of public policy or the rule of reasonable expectations. We hold that the provision is both unambiguous and valid. Thus, we affirm.

Page 1263

The facts are not disputed. Plaintiff's wife was severely injured in a motor vehicle accident. Plaintiff was not in the car or near the site of the accident. Plaintiff and his wife were insured under a policy issued by defendant which provided, as pertinent here, uninsured motorist coverage with $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident limits. Defendant paid plaintiff's wife the per person policy limit of $25,000.

Plaintiff sought payment of $25,000 for loss of consortium as a result of his wife's injuries. Defendant denied payment on the ground that, under the policy, plaintiff's wife had been paid the per person policy limit of $25,000 and plaintiff's claim was subject to that limit. Plaintiff filed a complaint for declaratory judgment, contending that the policy language was ambiguous, contrary to public policy, and contrary to the rule of reasonable expectations. The trial court disagreed, and plaintiff filed this appeal.

The policy limits uninsured motorist coverage as follows:

Limits of Liability

The Uninsured Motorists Coverage for Bodily Injury limit stated on the declarations page is the maximum amount payable for this coverage by this policy for any one accident. This means the insuring of more than one auto for other coverages will not increase our limit of liability beyond the amount shown in the declarations.

Regardless of the number of insured autos under this coverage, the specific amount shown on the declarations is the maximum that we will pay under this coverage for:

1. 'each person' for damages arising out of bodily injury to any one person in any one motor vehicle accident, including damages sustained by anyone else as a result of that injury.

2. 'each accident' for damages arising out of bodily injury to two or more persons in any one motor vehicle accident. This 'each accident' limit is subject to the 'each person' limit. (emphasis supplied)

The policy defines "bodily injury" to mean "bodily injury, sickness, disease or death."


Plaintiff first contends that the "each person" provision of the policy is ambiguous and, thus, must be read to provide separate and independent per person coverage for his loss of consortium claim. We disagree.

When the language of an insurance contract is clear and unambiguous on its face, it must be upheld as written. Courts may neither rewrite an unambiguous policy nor force a strained construction in order to resolve it against the insurer. Chacon v. American Family Mutual Insurance Co., 788 P.2d 748 (Colo.1990).

By its plain language, the policy provides that payment up to the per person coverage limit, here $25,000, will be made to "each person" who has sustained damages arising out of his or her bodily injury. The "each person" limit is unambiguously set forth as the total limit for all damages arising out of bodily injury to one person in any one motor vehicle accident. Clearly included within the damages to the injured person are "damages sustained by anyone else" as a result of the bodily injury suffered by that person.

Plaintiff's assertion notwithstanding, this provision simply cannot be read to provide, as plaintiff suggests, that any person who also has suffered damage from injury to an insured person has a separate claim up to the "each person" limit so long as one insured person has suffered bodily injury. To the contrary, the provision plainly restricts coverage to those who have sustained bodily injury and includes within that coverage any derivative claims of other persons. Compare Lampton v. United Services Automobile Ass'n, 835 P.2d 532 (Colo.App.1992) (construing similar policy language); Kinsella v. Farmers Insurance Exchange, 826 P.2d 433 (Colo.App.1992) (construing similar policy language); and Arguello v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., 42 Colo.App. 372, 599 P.2d 266 (1979) (construing similar policy language) with Sparks v. American Fire & Indemnity Co., 769 P.2d 501 (Colo.App.1989) (coverage included separate derivative claims).

Page 1264


Plaintiff also contends that it is contrary to public policy to allow the aggregation of his loss of consortium claim with his wife's bodily injury claim and to subject them both to a single "each person" coverage limit. Specifically, plaintiff argues, because uninsured motorist coverage must permit an injured person to recover compensation to the same extent that recovery would be permitted against an insured motorist, see Union Insurance Co. v. Houtz, 883...

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    ...also agree that it somehow supplements, but does not replace, traditional principles of contract interpretation. Spaur v. Allstate Ins. Co., 942 P.2d 1261, 1265 (Colo.App.1996); Shean v. Farmers Ins. Exch., 934 P.2d 835, 841 (Colo.App.1996). But Colorado courts have disagreed, and have not ......
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