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10/31/94 HARRY LUECHTEFELD v. ALLSTATE INSURANCE

October 31, 1994

HARRY LUECHTEFELD, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
ALLSTATE INSURANCE COMPANY, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of St. Clair County. No. 92-MR-020. Honorable Robert J. Hillebrand, Judge, presiding.

Petition for Leave to Appeal Allowed February 1, 1995.

Chapman, Lewis, Welch

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Chapman

JUSTICE CHAPMAN delivered the opinion of the court:

Plaintiff, Harry Luechtefeld, was injured in an accident involving his motorcycle and a car driven by an uninsured motorist. Plaintiff owned the motorcycle and had insured it with Pekin Insurance Company (Pekin). The insurance policy with Pekin included uninsured-motorist coverage, with limits of $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident. Plaintiff also had an insurance policy issued to him by defendant, Allstate Insurance Company, which provided coverage for three other vehicles owned by plaintiff, for an "87 Carvn," a "77 Star," and an "86 Escrt." Under the policy issued to plaintiff by defendant, plaintiff had uninsured-motorist coverage with limits of $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident.

Plaintiff settled his accident claim with Pekin for the limits of his uninsured-motorist coverage under that policy, i.e., for $20,000. Subsequently, he filed a claim against defendant under Allstate's uninsured-motorist provision. After Allstate denied his claim, plaintiff filed a declaratory judgment action and claimed that the uninsured-motorist provision in the policy issued to him by defendant was ambiguous. Plaintiff and defendant filed cross-motions for summary judgment. The trial court held that plaintiff's motorcycle was not covered by the policy issued to him by defendant, granted summary judgment for defendant, and denied plaintiff's motion. Plaintiff appeals.

Plaintiff contends that the court erred in finding that the language of the insurance policy issued by defendant to him was not ambiguous and that the exclusionary provision in the policy was violative of public policy. We first address plaintiff's contention that the court erred in finding that the language of the insurance policy issued by defendant was unambiguous.

Generally, the law for construing insurance policies is that these matters are a question of law that a reviewing court can consider de novo. ( Murphy v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. (1992), 234 Ill. App. 3d 222, 225, 599 N.E.2d 446, 448, 174 Ill. Dec. 662.) The agreement is to be enforced as written so long as it is unambiguous and only to the extent that it does not contravene public policy. ( Gibbs v. Madison Mutual Insurance Co. (1993), 242 Ill. App. 3d 147, 152, 610 N.E.2d 143, 147, 182 Ill. Dec. 719.) The main purpose is to ascertain and effectuate the intent of the parties. ( Murphy, 234 Ill. App. 3d at 225, 599 N.E.2d at 448.) In determining whether there is an ambiguity, the provision must be read in its factual context and not in isolation. ( Gibbs, 242 Ill. App. 3d at 152, 610 N.E.2d at 147.) Where the terms of a policy are clear and unambiguous, the language used will be given its plain meaning; however, if a provision is subject to more than one reasonable interpretation, it is ambiguous and should be construed against the insurer and in favor of the insured. Murphy, 234 Ill. App. 3d at 225, 599 N.E.2d at 448-49.

Plaintiff claims that the following provision of the insurance policy issued by defendant is ambiguous:

"Part V

Uninsured Motorists Insurance Coverage SS

Exclusions - What is not covered

This coverage does not apply to:

(3) Any person while in * * * a vehicle you own which is insured for this coverage under another policy." (Bold ...


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