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CAROL GERARDI v. HARLEYSVILLE INSURANCE COMPANY (12/18/81)

filed: December 18, 1981.

CAROL GERARDI
v.
HARLEYSVILLE INSURANCE COMPANY, APPELLANT



No. 1904 Philadelphia, 1980, Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Civil Division, of Montgomery County, No. 80-908.

COUNSEL

William H. Pugh, II, Norristown, submitted a brief on behalf of appellant.

Lawrence Sager, Pottstown, for appellee.

Hester, DiSalle and Popovich, JJ. Hester, J., files a dissenting statement.

Author: Per Curiam

[ 293 Pa. Super. Page 377]

Appellee, Carol Gerardi, was injured in an automobile accident which occurred on the island of St. Lucia. At the time of the accident, the automobile in which appellee was a passenger was uninsured. However, appellee carried an automobile insurance policy issued by the appellant, Harleysville Insurance Company, which included uninsured motorist coverage, but which did not cover accidents occurring outside of "the United States of America, its territories or possessions, Puerto Rico or Canada." St. Lucia is an independent nation and, of course, does not fall within any of the areas enumerated. Appellant refused appellee's claim for uninsured motorist benefits, citing the territorial restriction clause in appellee's policy. Appellee filed suit against appellant and the lower court granted appellee's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, finding the territorial restriction to be in violation of the Uninsured Motorists Act, Act of August 14, 1963, P.L. 909, § 1, as amended, 40 P.S. § 2000 (hereinafter the Act). Appellant filed this appeal.*fn1 We affirm the lower court.

The issue here is whether a territorial restriction provision in an uninsured motorist's policy is valid and enforceable as a matter of law. There is a split of authority in other jurisdictions regarding this issue -- decisions upholding the exclusion include Transamerica Insurance Company v. McKee, 27 Ariz.App. 158, 551 P.2d 1324 (1976); Kvalheim v. Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company, 195 N.W.2d 726 (Iowa 1972); American Casualty Co. v. Foster, 31 Misc.2d 818,

[ 293 Pa. Super. Page 378219]

N.Y.S.2d 815 (1961); holding the exclusion invalid: Mission Insurance Company v. Brown, 63 Cal.2d 508, 47 Cal.Rptr. 363, 407 P.2d 275 (1965); cf. Touchette v. Northwestern Mutual Insurance Company, 80 Wash.2d 327, 494 P.2d 479 (1972) (citing Mission Insurance Company v. Brown).

In Pennsylvania, uninsured motorist insurance is legislatively controlled by the Act. It is axiomatic that "[t]he object of all interpretation and construction of statutes is to ascertain and effectuate the intention of the General Assembly." 1 Pa.C.S.A. § 1921(a) (Supp. 1981-82). Primary consideration should be given to the language of the statute. 1 Pa.C.S.A. § 1921(c) (Supp. 1981-82). Appellant argues that the exclusion should be permitted in the policy because the Act does not explicitly proscribe such a limitation. We disagree. Subsection (e) of the Act sets forth those instances in which a policy may provide that "[t]he coverage required by . . . [the Act] does not apply . . . ." Appellant concedes that no territorial limitation is authorized or provided for in subsection (e). It is an elementary rule of statutory construction that "[e]xceptions expressed in a statute shall be construed to exclude all others." 1 Pa.C.S.A. § 1924 (Supp. 1981-82). Under the circumstances, we can only conclude that it was the legislature's intention not to permit any territorial exclusion.*fn2

Nor does an examination of the spirit of the Act help the appellant. Our courts have found that

[t]he purpose of the uninsured motorist law is to provide protection to innocent victims of irreponsible [sic] drivers . . . .

Sands v. Granite Mutual Insurance Company, 232 Pa. Super. 70, 78, 331 A.2d 711, 716 (1974), citing Harleysville Mut. Cas. Co. v. ...


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