This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2000).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Leon Overom, et al.,
State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company,
St. Louis County District Court
File No. C999601915
James W. Balmer, Matthew P. Bandt, Sean Quinn, Falsani, Balmer, Peterson & Quinn, 1200 Alworth Building, 306 West Superior Street, Duluth, MN 55802 (for appellant)
Michael W. Haag, Diana Bouschor Dodge, Andresen, Haag, Paciotti & Butterworth, P.A., 1000 Alworth Building, P.O. Box 745, Duluth, MN 55801 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Harten, Presiding Judge, Kalitowski, Judge, and Peterson, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Appellants Leon and Joanne Overom challenge the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of respondent State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company. Appellants contend the district court erred in finding that their insurance policy, covering a vehicle not involved in the automobile accident, excluded underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage for Joanne Overom’s damages. We affirm.
D E C I S I O N
On appeal from an award of summary judgment
we ask two questions: (1) whether there are any genuine issues of material fact and (2) whether the lower courts erred in their application of the law.
State by Cooper v. French, 460 N.W.2d 2, 4 (Minn. 1990) (citation omitted). “Where the [district] court applied the law to undisputed facts, the reviewing court may treat that determination as a matter of law.” Perfetti v. Fidelity & Cas. Co., 486 N.W.2d 440, 442 (Minn. App. 1992) (citation omitted). When reviewing questions of law, this court is not bound by the district court’s determination. Id.
Every owner of a motor vehicle in Minnesota must obtain UIM coverage. Minn. Stat. § 65B.49, subd. 3a(2) (2000). UIM insurance provides “excess coverage that is available when the tortfeasor carries inadequate liability insurance.” Johnson v. St. Paul Guardian Ins. Co., 627 N.W.2d 731, 732 (Minn. App. 2001) (citation omitted). In contrast,
[l]iability insurance is third-party coverage, meaning that it pays for damage the insured is legally obligated to pay another person, a third party, for bodily injury arising out of the insured’s ownership, maintenance or use of a motor vehicle.
Lynch ex. rel. Lynch v. American Fam. Mut. Ins. Co., 626 N.W.2d 182, 188 (Minn. 2001) (citations omitted). UIM insurance is not designed to relieve an insured or his or her family from the “failure to purchase sufficient [third-party] liability insurance.” Johnson, 627 N.W.2d at 732-33 (quotation omitted).
Appellants contend the family automobile exclusion of their insurance policy does not apply here. We disagree. This court recently addressed the issue of family automobile exclusions in Johnson, where a wife was injured while a passenger on her husband’s motorcycle, which he owned and insured separately. Id. at 732. The injured wife then sought to recover UIM benefits from a separate policy on another vehicle covering both the wife and the husband, the tortfeasor. Id. at 733. The wife’s insurer asserted that her claim was excluded from coverage, and this court agreed, concluding that to ignore the exclusion would impermissibly convert UIM coverage into third-party coverage. Id. at 734. This court reasoned:
The purpose of UIM benefits is to protect the insured from those who carry inadequate liability coverage. * * * Here, the tortfeasor, appellant’s husband, had liability insurance on his motorcycle that was inadequate to cover appellant’s injuries. This cannot be rectified by allowing the separate policy providing UIM coverage for appellant and the tortfeasor on their other motor vehicle to be converted to third-party coverage * * * .
Id. (emphasis omitted). We conclude that this case is controlled by Johnson, which is consistent with Minnesota law. See Myers v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 336 N.W.2d 288, 292 (Minn. 1983) (holding that “the policy definition of ‘underinsured motor vehicle,’ which excludes a vehicle owned by or furnished or made available for the regular use of the named insured, is valid”); Linder by Linder v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 364 N.W.2d 481, 483 (Minn. App. 1985) (extending Myers holding to cases where two insurance policies are involved), review denied (Minn. May 1, 1985).
Finally, we reject appellants’ contention that the family automobile exclusion contained in their insurance policy is against public policy. The supreme court in Lynch recently reaffirmed the validity of such exclusions:
[T]he concept of UIM coverage required by the [No-Fault] Act does not include the provision of UIM benefits when the effect is to convert the UIM coverage into third-party liability coverage. Consequently, * * * an insurer may permissibly preclude such coverage conversion with an owned-vehicle exclusion * * * .
Lynch, 626 N.W.2d at 189.
Following Johnson, we conclude the district court properly determined that appellant Joanne Overom was not entitled to UIM coverage for her damages that exceeded the amount of liability coverage on the vehicle insured by appellants that was involved in the accident.