Automobile Policy Exclusions

Weatherford Insurance Lawyers and those in Mineral Wells, Aledo, Azle, Springtown, Willow Park, Hudson Oaks, Millsap, Brock, and other places in Parker County need to be aware of this case.
It is a 1971, opinion issued by the Houston Court of Appeals. The style of the case is, Carl Calvin Futrell v. Indiana Lumbermens Mutual Insurance Company.
This is a suit for medical payment benefits under an automobile insurance policy. Futrell sued Lumbermens for medical expenses incurred by his minor son, who was injured while riding a motorbike when it collided with a motorcycle. Futrell contended that the trial court erred in concluding that a motorcycle is not an automobile within the meaning of that term as it is used in the medical payments coverage of the Texas family combination automobile insurance policy.
The parties stipulated to the following facts of the case:
On or about March 15, 1970, Carl Futrell, Jr., age 14, was riding a two-wheel vehicle known in common parlance and in every day usage as a motorbike which belonged to his father. In the vicinity of the 1000 block of Peach Springs, a collision occurred between the vehicle being ridden by Jr. and a two-wheel vehicle powered by an internal combustion engine. The latter vehicle is known as a motorcycle in popular and common usage. Jr. sustained injuries as a result of said collision which necessitated medical treatment and services. The medical bills exceeded $2,000.
On March 15, 1970, the policy at issue was in full force and effect. The automobile insured under the policy was a 1969 Chevrolet station wagon.
Each party moved for summary judgment based on the stipulated to evidence. The trial court ruled in favor of Lumbermens. The court concluded that a motorcycle is not an automobile within the meaning of Part II, Coverage C, Division 1(c) of the policy.
The provision in question was
“Coverage C–Medical Payments. To pay all reasonable expenses incurred within one year from the date of accident for necessary medical, surgical, X-ray and dental services, including prosthetic devices, and necessary ambulance, hospital, professional nursing and funeral services:
Division 1. To or for the named insured and each relative who sustains bodily injury, sickness or disease, including death resulting therefrom, hereinafter called ‘bodily injury’, caused by accident,
(a) while occupying the owned automobile (b) while occupying a non-owned automobile, but only if such person has, or reasonably relieves he has, the permission of the owner to use the automobile and the use is within the scope of such permission, or (c) through being struck by an automobile or by a trailer of any type; ….”
The policy contains definitions of ‘owned automobile,’ ‘temporary substitute automobile,’ ‘non-owned automobile,’ ‘private passenger automobile,’ farm automobile’ and utility automobile,’ but it does not contain a definition of ‘automobile.’
In it’s ruling, the court said it found nothing ambiguous in the term ‘automobile,’ and no indication that it was used in a technical or different sense. The court pointed out that under Texas law, terms used in an insurance contract are given their ordinary and generally accepted meaning unless the policy shows the words were meant in a technical or different sense.
The term ‘automobile’ is narrower than the terms ‘vehicle’ and ‘motor vehicle.’ In the absence of words in the policy which indicate a different meaning, it has been held that the term ‘automobile’ is not broad enough to embrace a motorcycle.
Thus, the court found in favor of Lumbermens.
This case is important to Insurance Law Attorneys in showing how courts review these types of cases.