Henry G. Gyden and Lisha Bowen of Swope, Rodante P.A., Tampa, and Ronald K. Zimmet, Jr., of Zimmet & Quarles, P.L., Daytona Beach, for Appellant.
Caryn L. Bellus of Kubicki Draper, P.A., Miami, for Appellee GEICO General Insurance Company.
No Appearance for James Apicella and Donald Medlar.
Ryan Trout appeals the trial court's order entering summary judgment in favor of GEICO General Insurance Company. Determining that the trial court incorrectly interpreted the insurance policy at issue, we reverse.
Trout was injured while riding in a truck driven by his uncle and owned by a third person. The truck was pulling a trailer owned by yet another person. As the truck and trailer were travelling down I-95, the trailer began to sway. Ultimately, the driver lost control of the truck and trailer. They went into a spin, the trailer disconnected, and the truck impacted a guardrail. No other vehicles were involved in the accident.
The truck was insured by GEICO, but the trailer was not listed on any insurance policy. Trout sought uninsured motorist (UM) benefits under the GEICO policy, asserting that the trailer was uninsured. GEICO denied the claim, stating that UM coverage did not apply because the accident involved a single vehicle. Trout then filed suit against GEICO, and both parties moved for summary judgment. The trial court concluded that, under the GEICO policy, the trailer was part of an insured auto (the truck) and, thus, was not uninsured for purposes of UM coverage. This conclusion was incorrect in light of the plain language of the GEICO policy.
The standard of review for a trial court's interpretation of an insurance policy is de novo. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Parrish, 873 So.2d 547, 549 (Fla. 5th DCA 2004). Insurance policies must be construed according to their plain language. Swire P. Holdings, Inc. v. Zurich Ins. Co., 845 So.2d 161, 165 (Fla.2003); Auto-Owners Ins. Co. v. Anderson, 756 So.2d 29, 34 (Fla.2000). To determine whether the trailer was uninsured for purposes of UM coverage, we must analyze (1)
whether the trailer was a separate auto, and if so, (2) whether the trailer came within the definition of " uninsured auto."
First, the GEICO policy treats a trailer as a separate auto for purposes of UM coverage. The policy's liability section defines " non-owned auto" and " owned auto" to include a trailer, and the UM section incorporates these definitions by reference.
GEICO argues that the policy treats a trailer as part of the vehicle to which it is attached. GEICO relies on the following provision in the policy's liability section: