No. 710 Phl 1983, Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County, Civil Division at No. 82-9671.
James J. McCabe, Philadelphia, for appellant.
Edward F. Silva, Philadelphia, for Rosato, appellee.
Joseph Goldberg, Philadelphia, for Safeco, appellee.
Cavanaugh, McEwen and Hoffman, JJ.
[ 328 Pa. Super. Page 280]
The question presented on appeal is whether a passenger in a vehicle struck by an uninsured motorist can stack or cumulate uninsured motorist benefits under her father's automobile insurance policy covering three vehicles not involved in the accident where (1) the policy limits liability to single coverage, and (2) although not a named insured or premium-payor, she is an insured under the policy. We
[ 328 Pa. Super. Page 281]
hold that she can stack uninsured motorist coverages and, accordingly, affirm the order of the court below.
On October 14, 1979, at approximately 1:30 a.m., Michael Coyle was operating a motorcycle on Conestoga Road in Radnor, Pennsylvania, when he was struck from behind by a negligently operated uninsured vehicle. Both Coyle and his passenger, Marissa Rosato, sustained injuries. Rosato's injuries resulted in her death approximately 18 hours after the accident. Coyle's motorcycle was owned by his employer, Wright Enterprises, Inc. d/b/a Devon Honda, which had insured it along with nine other motorcycles under a "garage fleet policy" with Providence Washington Insurance Company.*fn1 At the time of Marissa's death, James Rosato, her father, had in effect two separate insurance policies with Harleysville Mutual Insurance Company (appellant Harleysville) and Safeco Insurance Company (Safeco). The Harleysville "business auto" policy provided a single limit coverage of $30,000 uninsured motorist benefits on each of three vehicles. The Safeco "family auto" policy provided uninsured motorist coverage of $15,000 per person/$30,000 per accident on three other vehicles owned by James Rosato. On May 25, 1982, following a hearing, the arbitrators, in a two-to-one decision, awarded Rosato's estate $90,000 under the Harleysville policy and $45,000 under the Safeco policy. Both Harleysville and Safeco petitioned to modify or vacate the arbitration award, alleging that the arbitrators made a mistake of law in allowing the decedent to cumulate coverages on the vehicles insured under the policies issued to James Rosato. On February 25,
[ 328 Pa. Super. Page 2821983]
, the lower court denied the petitions and confirmed the arbitration award. This appeal by Harleysville followed.*fn2
The Pennsylvania Uninsured Motorist Act provides, in relevant part:
No motor vehicle liability policy of insurance insuring against loss resulting from liability imposed by law for bodily injury or death suffered by any person arising out of the ownership, maintenance or use of a motor vehicle shall be delivered or issued for delivery in this State with respect to any motor vehicle registered or principally garaged in this State, unless coverage is provided therein or supplemental thereto in limits for bodily injury or death as are fixed from time to time by the General Assembly in section 1421 of article XIV of "The Vehicle Code", act of April 29, 1959 (P.L. 58), under provisions approved by the Insurance Commissioner, for the protection of persons insured thereunder who are legally entitled to recover damages from owners or operators of uninsured motor vehicles because of bodily injury, sickness or disease, including death resulting therefrom, . . . .
40 P.S. § 2000(a) (footnote omitted) (emphasis added). The legislative intent behind this act was noted by our Supreme Court in Harleysville Mutual Casualty Company v. ...