In a recent car accident case, the Court of Appeals of Tennessee reviewed an order granting an insurance company’s motion for summary judgment against the plaintiff. In Shempert v. Cox (Tenn. Ct. App. Aug. 24, 2016), the plaintiff brought suit against his insurance company, seeking uninsured motor vehicle insurance coverage after being involved in a car accident with an uninsured motorist. The insurance company argued that the plaintiff was operating a vehicle that was not insured under his policy but was available for his regular use, and therefore he was not covered. After the trial court ruled against him, the plaintiff appealed the issue to the higher court.
In Shempert, the plaintiff was injured when his vehicle, owned by his employer, collided with a vehicle operated by an uninsured motorist, who died at the scene of the accident. While the insurance policy at issue provided for uninsured motorist coverage, it contained a “regular use” exclusion. Specifically, the policy excluded damages arising out of the use of any vehicle other than the insured car that is owned or made available for the regular use of the insured.
The insurance company argued that since the plaintiff was not operating his insured car at the time of the accident but was instead operating a vehicle that his employer allowed the plaintiff to regularly use, there was no coverage under the policy. On appeal, the plaintiff contended that the term “regular use” created ambiguity because its meaning altered throughout the policy.