Trotter v. Harleysville Ins. Co., No. 15-3654 (7th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
Powers drove through a stop sign and caused a four-vehicle accident. The plaintiffs suffered personal injuries. Trotter was the driver of the vehicle; Jackson and Petrie were passengers. Powers was insured under a policy with liability limits of $250,000 per person and $500,000 per accident. The plaintiffs settled with Powers’s insurer for the per-accident limit of $500,000; Trotter received $250,000 and Jackson and Petrie split the remaining $250,000. The plaintiffs believed that the settlement did not make them whole and submitted claims to Harleysville, Trotter’s insurer under a policy that provides that Trotter and any occupant of his vehicle is an “insured” for purposes of underinsured motorist coverage. The policy's declaration page states that underinsured motorist coverage is limited to $500,000 for “each accident.” Because the plaintiffs had together already recovered $500,000 under the Powers policy, Harleysville denied their claims, concluding that Powers was not an “underinsured motorist.” The plaintiffs argued the policy can reasonably be construed to mean that the $500,000 limit applies on a per-person, rather than a per-accident, basis. The court entered summary judgment in favor of Harleysville. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, finding that the policy unambiguously states that coverage is subject to a $500,000 per-accident maximum, regardless of the number of insureds involved.