The Connecticut Appellate Court recently held that a single “per-person” auto policy limit of insurance applied to a spouse’s loss of consortium claim because it was not truly independent from the related bodily injury claim.
Amica Mut. Ins. Co. v. Piquette1 involved an automobile accident between an individual insured by Amica Mutual Insurance Company (Amica) and Bryan Piquette. The insured caused the accident, which resulted in serious physical injury to Mr. Piquette. Mr. Piquette and his wife filed suit against the insured claiming that the accident resulted in bodily injury and loss of consortium.
The Amica policy provided liability coverage for damages “arising out of bodily injury” with limits of $100,000 per person, and a total limit of $300,000 per accident for bodily injury. Amica offered to settle all claims for a total sum of $100,000, which represented a single per-person limit of coverage for bodily injury. The Piquettes insisted that they were each entitled to a separate per-person limit of $100,000, as each had their own claim against the insured. In light of this dispute, Amica commenced a declaratory judgment action to determine the proper scope of coverage provided by the policy.
The court concluded that the loss of consortium claim was derivative of the claim for bodily injury, and therefore did not trigger a separate per-person limit under the terms of the Amica policy. Specifically, the court reasoned that the wife’s loss of consortium claim did not warrant a separate limit of insurance because it merely “flowed from,” and was inextricably connected to, the husband’s bodily injury claim. As a result, the court found that, in the absence of policy language providing a per-person limit for a broader category of claims, coverage was restricted to a single limit.
This case illustrates that while courts may be reluctant to extend separate limits of insurance to multiple claims that are all related, the language of the policy should always inform the court’s conclusions.
For more information about this case, please contact Theresa A. Guertin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 203-287-2119, or H. Scott Williams at email@example.com or 203-287-2121. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________
1 176 Conn. App. 559 (2017)