When Does “Use” Equal Coverage On An Auto Policy?

A guy in Grand Prairie gets his claim denied. Or maybe, it is someone in Arlington, Grapevine, Bedford, De Soto, Duncanville, Burleson, Crowley, or anywhere else in Texas. How do you know if your insurance policy covers a claim. The lawerly answer is: It depends. But here are two things to do. First, read the policy. Second, consult with an experienced Insurance Law Attorney.
Here is a case that talks about coverage in the uninsured motorist context. The case is, Rick Collier v. Employers National Insurance Company. This is a 1993, case, decided by the Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourteenth District, Houston.
The court in this case, denied Collier’s claim that uninsured motorist coverage extended to the facts in this case. Here are the facts.
Collier was driving the Mustang automobile of a friend in the Hermann Park area of Houston, Texas, when an unidentified vehicle pulled alongside the Mustang and fired two shots at it. Collier sustained injuries from the shots, and he sought to recover under the uninsured motorist provision of the policy on the Mustang provided by Employer’s National Insurance Company. The two vehicles never collided, and Collier’s injuries resulted solely from the gunshots.
The insurance policy at issue provided uninsured motorist coverage with standard language describing an “uninsured motor vehicle”.
In its first arguement, Employers claims the requirement that “the damages must arise out of the … use of the uninsured motor vehicle,” is not satisfied. The court agreed for two reasons.
The first issue was how broadly the term term “use” should be identified. Collier said it should encompass almost any act which occurs in, on, or around the vehicle. Employers, on the other hand, argued that “use” refers to use of the automobile, as an automobile. The court agreed with Employers.
The second issue was interpretation of the “arising out of the use” clause in the policy. The court cited, 6B John A. Appleman, Insurance Law And Practice, Section 4317. Appleman is referenced as an expert analysis of insurance law.
Appleman provides a three-part test for construing the “use” requirement of uninsured motorist coverage as follows:
1. The accident must have arisen out of the inherent nature of the automobile, as such;
2. The accident must have arisen within the natural territorial limits of the automobile, and the actual use, loading, or unloading must not have terminated; and 3. The automobile must not merely contribute to the cause of the condition which produces the injury, but must itself produce the injury.
The court then stated, “Clearly, the attack to which Collier was subjected did not arise out of the inherent nature of the automobile. The same injury could have been suffered in the same way if the parties had been on foot, on bicycles, or in any other of a number of circumstances. Allowing coverage simply because an automobile provided the site for a criminal assault or provided transportation to the location of a criminal act could lead to absurb and wide-ranging results. The shotgun, not the uninsured vehicle, was the instrument that caused Collier’s injury; therefore, we hold that the injuries did not arise out of the use of the uninsured vehicle.”