Clinton County, MO Judge Enforces “Regular Use” Exclusion In Progressive Policy07/15/2015
In 2012, Jeff Reece was operating his new John Deere Gator, a cross-utility vehicle, on a state highway when a driver following him mistook his left hand turn signal for waving the driver on around Mr. Reece. The driver struck Mr. Reece as he turned left, causing serious injuries to Mr. Reece. No insurance policy was issued for the Gator, so Mr. Reece made a claim under his automobile policy for underinsured motorist coverage. Progressive denied the UIM claim on the grounds that the Gator was a “motor vehicle” available for Mr. Reece’s regular use, but which was not insured under the Progressive policy. Mr. Reece argued that the regular use exclusion was ambiguous and that the policy should be construed against Progressive. Mr. Reece argued that the Gator was not a “motor vehicle” even though he operated it on the public highway and had consulted with the Missouri Highway Patrol before the accident regarding equipping the Gator for travel on public roadways. The trial court held that the Gator was indeed a “motor vehicle” within the meaning of the policy, that the regular use exclusion was unambiguous, and that Progressive had no obligation under the automobile policy to provide UIM benefits to Mr. Reece while injured on his Gator on the public highway. Suzanne Bruss briefed and argued the case for Progressive.