Uninsured Motorist Insurance Coverage

Jay v. United Serv’s Auto. Ass’n, [Ms. 1190941, June 18, 2021], ___ So. 3d ___ (Ala. 2021). The Court (Stewart, J.; Parker, C.J., and Bolin, Bryan, and Sellers, JJ., concur; Wise, J. recuses) affirms an order granting summary judgment in favor of an uninsured motorist insurer because the claimant was not a “covered person” as defined by the policy. The Court reiterates the familiar rules governing construction of insurance policies.

“A contract of insurance, like other contracts, is governed by the general rules of contracts. Pate v. Rollison Logging Equip., Inc., 628 So. 2d 337 (Ala. 1993). Insurance companies are entitled to have their policy contract enforced as written. Gregory v. Western World Ins. Co., 481 So. 2d 878 (Ala. 1985). ‘Insurance contracts, like other contracts, are construed so as to give effect to the intention of the parties, and, to determine this intent, a court must examine more than an isolated sentence or term; it must read each phrase in the context of all other provisions.’ Attorneys Ins. Mut. of Alabama, Inc. v. Smith, Blocker & Lowther, P.C., 703 So. 2d 866, 870 (Ala. 1996).

“If an insurance policy is clear and unambiguous in its terms, then there is no question of interpretation or construction. American & Foreign Ins. Co. v. Tee Jays Mfg. Co., 699 So. 2d 1226 (Ala. 1997). The fact that the parties interpret the insurance policy differently does not make the insurance policy ambiguous. Tate v. Allstate Ins. Co., 692 So. 2d 822 (Ala. 1997). While ambiguities or uncertainties in an insurance policy should be resolved against the insurer, ambiguities are not to be inserted by strained or twisted reasoning. Kelley v. Royal Globe Ins. Co., 349 So. 2d 561 (Ala. 1977). Where the parties disagree on whether the language in an insurance contract is ambiguous, a court should construe [the] language according to the meaning that a person of ordinary intelligence would reasonably give it. Western World Ins. Co. v. City of Tuscumbia, 612 So. 2d 1159 (Ala. 1992).”

Twin City Fire Ins. Co. v. Alfa Mut. Ins. Co., 817 So. 2d 687, 691-92 (Ala. 2001). Furthermore, “[w]here an insurance policy defines certain words or phrases, a court must defer to the definition provided by the policy. St. Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co. v. Edge Mem’l Hosp., 584 So. 2d 1316 (Ala. 1991).” Id. at 692.

Ms. **6-7. The Court rejects the claimant’s contention that he was a “covered person,” because his spouse (the policyholder’s daughter) was provided with a proof-of-insurance card listing her as a “named insured.” Because the policy unambiguously listed the claimant’s spouse only as an “operator” on the declarations page rather than as the “insured,” the description of the spouse as “named insured” on the insured’s card did not create an ambiguity with regard to the true “named insured” defined within the policy.

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