While it is somewhat common for two vehicles involved in an Illinois car accident to be covered by the same insurance company, it is very rare that both those vehicles are covered under the same insurance policy. In Progressive Premier Insurance Company of Illinois v. Kocher, No. 5-07-0468, both vehicles involved in an Illinois motorcycle accident were owned by the same family and covered on the same insurance policy. The case was brought to the Illinois Appellate Court to help shed light on what to do in these unusual circumstances.
The Illinois auto accident occurred when Nick Kocher’s motorcycle collided with his father’s ATV. Luke Kocher was a passenger on the ATV at the time of the crash and sustained severe head injuries. Luke required a lengthy hospitalization and recovery, which resulted in a large amount of medical bills.
The Kocher family turned to Progressive Insurance Company of Illinois, their auto insurer, for payment of the bills that were a result of the motorcycle accident. Both the motorcycle and ATV were insured on the same policy, along with a third vehicle. The policy coverage included limits of $100,000 per person and $300,000 total for each vehicle.
According to plaintiff’s theory of liability, Progressive was responsible for up to $200,000 of Luke’s bills, i.e. $100,000 for Luke from both the ATV policy and the motorcycle policy. However, Progressive Insurance did not agree – it felt that it was only responsible for covering the amount for one vehicle.
Upon review of the matter the Illinois Appellate Court noted that Progressive’s insurance policy did not include any language allowing or prohibiting this unusual situation; the insurance policy had some ambiguity. Any time an insurance policy is ambiguous regarding its provisions the burden of the court lies on deciding in favor of the insured parties, which in this case was the Kocher family.
In defense of its policy’s ambiguity Progressive Insurance attempted to argue that it was specific in its prohibiting of ‘stacking’ insurance policies. Stacking involves combining two separate policies to create a higher payout when one of the vehicles was not involved in the collision. However, the court found that the concept of stacking did not really apply here considering both vehicles were actually involved in the incident.
Therefore, upon review of the case facts the Illinois Appellate Court found in favor of the defendant and ruled that Progressive Insurance was responsible for covering both policies. The court found that regardless of how they interpreted the insurance policy’s ambiguous language that the plaintiff was not liable. Progressive was ordered to pay up to $200,000 for Luke’s injuries, which reflects the total policy limits for both the motorcycle and ATV’s insurance policies.
Kreisman Law Offices has been handling Illinois motorcycle accident cases for over 30 years, serving those areas in and around Cook County, including Rosce Village, Wilmette, Elmhurst, and Bolingbrook.
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