Gambrell v. IDS Property Casualty (CA2 9/09/15)

Not a terribly exciting case but insurance practitioners will want to be aware of this nicely-done civil opinion from Division Two.

Gambrell, while driving his employer’s milk truck, was injured in an accident. He got paid by the other driver’s insurer and by his employer’s UIM policy. He then demanded UIM under his personal auto policy from  IDS. It denied him; he sued; the trial court gave IDS summary judgment; the Court of Appeals affirms.

The policy’s UIM coverage was worded so as not to cover most commercial vehicles. Gambrell argued that since UIM coverage is nowadays “portable” it must cover him wherever, citing Calvert — UIM applies in the car, walking, sitting on the porch, etc. IDS cited 20-259.01(C), which makes UIM coverage of transport vehicles permissive rather than mandatory. Gambrell threw a number of arguments at that, though most seem to have amounted to “the statute can’t mean that because portability.” The essential problem with that is that Calvert expressly recognized the statute’s predecessor as an exception to the portability requirement.

The interesting part of the case is the court’s comment on portability: “Although the statute does not explicitly state that UIM coverage is personal and portable, the legislature has never explicitly addressed this interpretation  . . .  and courts continue to rely on it.” Not exactly a ringing endorsement. This is a useful, appropriate, and somewhat unexpected reminder that, despite frequent invocation of Calvert’s porch, portability is a judicial invention that exists because the legislature hasn’t bothered to change it.  

(link to opinion)