Appeal from decree of Court of Common Pleas, Civil Division, of Allegheny County, July T., 1972, No. 2077, in case of Allstate Insurance Company v. Margaret McMonagle and The American Arbitration Association.
Joseph M. Zoffer, with him Martino, Ferris & Zoffer, for appellant.
Wallace E. Edgecombe, with him Royston, Robb, Leonard, Edgecombe, Miller & Urbanik, for appellee.
Jones, C. J., Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice O'Brien. Mr. Chief Justice Jones dissents.
Appellant, Margaret McMonagle, suffered personal injuries in an automobile accident. At the time of the accident, Miss McMonagle was a passenger in an automobile being operated by an uninsured motorist. Claiming that the uninsured motorist was negligent, Miss McMonagle made a claim against appellee, Allstate Insurance Company, under the terms of the uninsured motorist coverage of a policy of liability insurance which allegedly afforded coverage to her. In accordance with the terms of the policy, appellant made a demand for arbitration, but Allstate refused to submit to arbitration, alleging that the policy under which appellant had made her demand had expired six days prior to the date of the accident. Appellant's position was and is that the policy was in full force and effect on the date of the accident in question and for approximately one month subsequent to that date.
The American Arbitration Association, under whose rules the arbitration would proceed, determined that "an issue as to arbitrability exists which could be determined by an Arbitrator." Allstate then filed a complaint in equity, seeking to enjoin the American Arbitration Association from appointing an arbitrator and proceeding with a hearing on appellant's claim. Preliminary
objections to Allstate's complaint in equity were filed, alleging that the court below had no jurisdiction in the matter, inasmuch as the uninsured motorist provision of the policy in question provided for arbitration. Those preliminary objections were dismissed, giving rise to the instant appeal.
This court has long expressed the view that all questions arising under uninsured motorist coverage should be determined by arbitration. We stated this proposition in Nat. Grange M. Ins. Co. v. Kuhn, 428 Pa. 179, 236 A.2d 758 (1968). We there stated, at page 185: "The arbitration clause, in our view, indicates that the parties contemplated one method, and one method only, for the resolution of disputes under this coverage. That method was arbitration and all such disputes should be so decided."
We have adhered to that view from that date to this through a long series of cases. See, e.g., Grange M. Cas. Co. v. Pa. Mfgrs' Assn. I. Co., 438 Pa. 95, 263 A.2d 732 (1970); Preferred Risk M. Ins. Co. v. Martin, 436 Pa. 374, 260 A.2d 804 (1970); Allstate Ins. Co. v. Taylor, 434 Pa. 21, 252 A.2d 618 (1969); Merchants M. I. Co. v. Am. Arb. Assn., 433 Pa. 250, 248 A.2d 842 (1969); Harleysville Mut. Ins. Co. v. Medycki, 431 Pa. 67, 244 A.2d 655 (1968).
In Kuhn, the specific question which we determined should be decided by the arbitrator was whether the alleged tortfeasor was an uninsured motorist. The insurance carrier took the position that the only questions for arbitration were the insured's right to recover from the tortfeasor and the amount of the recovery. The company, of course, argued that the coverage did not apply unless there were an initial determination that the alleged tortfeasor ...