The Missouri Western Court of Appeals for the Western District was looking at an auto policy to determine if the liability coverage "stacked." In finding that the policy was ambiguous, the Court indicates that exclusions make a policy ambiguous.
In Durbin v. Detrick, Durbin was injured by Deitrick, [the insured or covered individual], while Deitrick was operating a vehicle he did not own. Because Deitrick’s four personal automotive liability policies are ambiguous as to whether they may be stacked in this specific circumstance, we must construe the policy language against American Family and in favor of permitting stacking of Deitrick’s four liability policies. On cross motions for summary judgment, the trial court found for the insured, and this was affirmed by the Court of Appeals.
The Court notes: “Where an insurance policy promises the insured something at one point but then takes it away at another, there is an ambiguity.” Thus, “if policy language is ambiguous as to whether stacking is permitted, we construe the language of the policy against the insurer and in favor of stacking.”
The Court concluded “that while the Limits of Liability provision and Section 3 of the General Provisions in the American Family policies appear to generally prohibit the stacking of multiple liability policies, the language of the second sentence of the Other Insurance provision, analogous to that of Ritchie and Niswonger, could reasonably be understood by a lay person to indicate an exception to this general prohibition in the specific case where liability coverage is afforded for injuries incurred through use of a vehicle not owned by a covered individual.”
Here is the policy language
PART I – LIABILITY COVERAGE ….
We will pay compensatory damages an insured person is legally liable for because of bodily injury and property damage due to the use of a car or utility trailer. ….
LIMITS OF LIABILITY
The limits of liability shown in the declarations apply, subject to the following. . . We will pay no more than these maximums no matter how many vehicles are described in the declarations, or insured persons, claims, claimants, policies or vehicles are involved. ….
If there is other auto liability insurance for a loss covered by this Part, we will pay our share according to this policy’s proportion of the total of all liability limits. But, any insurance provided under this Part for a vehicle you do not own is excess over any other collectible auto liability insurance.
3. Two or More Cars Insured. The total of our liability under all policies issued to you by us shall not exceed the highest limit of liability under any o