This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2000).







Western National Mutual

Insurance Company,





Raymond H. Knaeble,

as co-personal representative of the

estate of Ray R. Knaeble, Sr.,



Paul J. Knaeble,

as co-personal representative of the

estate of Ray R. Knaeble, Sr.




Filed August 27, 2002

Klaphake, Judge


Itasca County District Court

File No. C8011091



Burke J. Ellingson, Maureen A. Hill, Brendel and Zinn, Ltd., 464 East Fourth Street, Suite 804, St. Paul, MN  55101 (for respondent)


George L. Duranske III, Duranske Law Firm, 1435 Anne Street Northwest, Post Office Box 1383, Bemidji, MN  56619-1383 (for appellant)


            Considered and decided by Klaphake, Presiding Judge, Halbrooks, Judge, and Parker, Judge.*

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


Decedent Raymond R. Knaeble was the named insured on an automobile insurance policy provided by respondent Western National Mutual Insurance Company.  Knaeble died in March 2000, but his automobile policy remained in effect through April 30, 2000.  Appellant Paul J. Knaeble and his brother, Raymond H. Knaeble, sons of the decedent, were co-representatives of their father’s estate.  They received a policy renewal notice from respondent and submitted a check drawn from the estate, which was deposited on June 16, 2000.  On June 17, 2000, appellant and his brother were involved in a one-car automobile accident for which they seek coverage under the policy.  The district court determined that (1) the policy allowed for the use of the vehicle by legal representatives only within the policy period existing at the time of the insured’s death, but not beyond this time period; and (2) the policy contained a material misrepresentation because it did not list appellant and his brother as residents of the insured’s home.  Because we conclude that the policy expired on April 30, 2000, more than a month before the accident for which appellant seeks coverage, we affirm the grant of summary judgment to respondent. 


            On appeal from summary judgment, this court determines whether there are any genuine issues of material fact and whether the district court erred in its application of law.  Minn. R. Civ. P. 56.03.

            Interpretation of an insurance policy and application of the policy to the facts in a case are questions of law that we review de novo.  When interpreting an insurance contract, words are to be given their natural and ordinary meaning and any ambiguity regarding coverage is construed in favor of the insured.


American Family Ins. Co. v. Walser, 628 N.W.2d 605, 609 (Minn. 2001) (citations omitted).

            The district court granted summary judgment, in part, because it concluded that “the clear unambiguous reading of the policy of Ray F. Knaeble leads to the conclusion that the policy could not be renewed beyond April 30, 2000” and that the sons could use their father’s vehicle only “until the end of the policy period.”  We agree with the district court’s reading of the policy.  

            The pertinent transfer provisions of the policy state as follows:



A.        Your rights and duties under this policy may not be assigned without our written consent.  However, if a named insured shown in the Declarations dies, coverage will be provided for:


            * * *


            2.   The legal representative of the deceased person as if a named insured shown in the Declarations.  This applies only with respect to the representative’s legal responsibility to maintain or use “your covered auto”.


B.        Coverage will only be provided until the end of the policy period.          


In regard to renewal, the policy provides, in part, as follows:

C.        Automatic Termination


            If we offer to renew or continue and you or your representative do not accept, this policy will automatically terminate at the end of the current policy period.  Failure to pay the required renewal or continuation premium when due shall mean that you have not accepted our offer.


            The district court read the policy transfer provisions to mean that upon Raymond F. Knaeble’s death, coverage would continue in his legal representative, but only until the end of the policy period during which Raymond F. Knaeble died.  This reading covers the circumstance of the insured’s death, extending coverage to the insured’s legal representative to allow for settlement of the insured’s estate.  The language specifically stating that “[c]overage will only be provided until the end of the policy period[,]” limits the duration of the coverage following the insured’s death.  This reading also gives effect to the pertinent language of the policy, individually, and taken in context with other policy language.  See Andrew L. Youngquist, Inc.  v. Cincinnati Ins. Co., 625 N.W.2d 178, 183 (Minn. App. 2001) (“The language of the [insurance] policy must be given its ordinary and usual meaning so as to give effect to the intention of the parties as it appears from the contract.”); Fillmore v. Ia. Nat’l Mut. Ins. Co., 344 N.W.2d 875, 877 (Minn. App. 1984) (review of insurance policy must give effect to parties’ agreement).  

            The district court further read the policy renewal provisions to apply only if Raymond F. Knaeble remained alive.  The court stated that “[d]efendants could not have accepted the renewal of the policy because the offer of renewal was to Ray F. Knaeble.”  This reading is consistent with Minnesota law because the offer of insurance is made to the insured.  See St. Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co., v. Bierwerth, 285 Minn. 310, 317, 175 N.W.2d 136, 141 (1969) (“binding renewal [insurance] contract cannot be effected without the mutual assent of the parties”).



* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.