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Walker v. Progressive Direct Insurance Co.

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

October 18, 2016

Ronda Walker Plaintiff- Appellant
v.
Progressive Direct Insurance Company, et al. Defendants-Appellees

          Submitted: September 20, 2016

         Appeal from United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri - Cape Girardeau

          Before LOKEN, BEAM, and BENTON, Circuit Judges.

          LOKEN, CIRCUIT JUDGE.

         Steve Walker died in a motorcycle accident. His wife, Ronda Walker, brought a wrongful death action against the driver of the other vehicle, which the parties settled for the driver's liability policy limit of $25, 000. Ronda then sued the Walkers' insurer, Progressive Direct Insurance Company, to recover underinsured motorist insurance ("UIM") under two Progressive Auto Policies insuring their six other cars. After Progressive removed the action to federal court, the district court[1] granted Progressive's motion for summary judgment, concluding that the policies' "owned vehicle" exclusion barred UIM coverage because Steve did not purchase UIM coverage under a separate policy insuring his motorcycle. Ronda appeals. Reviewing de novo the district court's interpretation of the insurance policies and their ambiguity, as Missouri law requires, we affirm. Floyd-Tunnell v. Shelter Mut. Ins. Co., 439 S.W.3d 215, 217 (Mo. banc 2014).

         The two Progressive policies provided UIM coverage for each of the six named vehicles. The policies' "owned vehicle" exclusion ("OVE") is common in auto liability policies. The Supreme Court of Missouri has noted the exclusion's purpose: "one cannot simply buy a policy of insurance on one vehicle and then argue that the policy covers other vehicles that the insured also owns but chose not to insure." Dutton v. American Family Mut. Ins. Co., 454 S.W.3d 319, 323 (Mo. banc 2015). Here, Steve Walker separately insured his motorcycle without UIM coverage.

         UIM coverage is not required by statute in Missouri, so Ronda's coverage claim turns on the UIM provisions in Progressive's policies, construed in accordance with Missouri law. Progressive provided UIM coverage in Part III (B) of its Auto Policy. The "Insuring Agreement" in Part III (B) provided:

If you pay the premium for this coverage, we will pay for damages that an insured person is legally entitled to recover from the owner or operator of an underinsured motor vehicle because of bodily injury:
1. sustained by that insured person;
2. caused by an accident; and
3. arising out of the ownership, maintenance, or use of an underinsured motor vehicle.

         The policies' general definitions defined "Bodily injury" to mean "bodily harm . . . including death that results from bodily harm, " and defined "You" to mean "a person shown as a named insured on the declarations page."

         The OVE exclusion in Part III (B) provided that UIM ...


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