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Insurance – Auto – UIM Stacking – California Policy – S.C. Property, Lives or Interests

A South Carolina-resident Navy sailor was temporarily in California on his way to deployment in Guam when he bought insurance for the Kia he took with him to Guam. While he was in Guam, his wife and children, who had moved back to South Carolina, were involved in an auto accident that claimed the lives of two of the three children. Since the California policy provided uninsured motorist coverage for the whole family, it insured “property, lives or interests” in South Carolina and was thus “considered to be made in the State” under S.C. Code Ann. § 38-61-10, making the policy covering the Kia stackable for underinsured motorist coverage purposes.

We reverse summary judgment for the defendant-insurer.

The California policy provided more than just liability coverage for a vehicle that was physically located in Guam. In addition to the car, the California policy insured the whole family. The policy provided uninsured (UM) motorist coverage protecting each family member, regardless of whether they were occupying the insured vehicle. Liability coverage follows the vehicle but UM and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage follow the insured.

The fact that the California policy insured plaintiff’s wife and children while they were living in South Carolina means the statute is satisfied. The statute is triggered when an insurance policy covers lives and interests here, and there is no doubt this policy did so.

The dissent focuses on the policy’s property coverage, but that coverage is not in play here, and the statute does not ask us to look at which of several coverages may have been the “main” one the policy insured. The statute applies to policies covering property, lives, or interests in South Carolina. We must give meaning to all of those terms, not just some of them.

Reversed and remanded.


(Konduros, J.): Under South Carolina law, the California policy would be reformed to include UIM coverage1 and would permit that UIM coverage to be stacked even though California law prohibits stacking.

Section 38-61-10 applies to “contracts of insurance on property, lives, or interests in this State.” The word “or” indicates we should evaluate the statute’s application to property, lives, or interests separately. While an automobile policy incidentally benefits the lives of drivers and passengers in automobiles, to construe it as “a contract of insurance on . . . lives” is strained.

The only reasonable interpretation of § 38-61-10 is that the California policy is a policy on property that indirectly insures lives and interests in the limited context of automobile accidents.

I am not persuaded that the Kia constitutes property in South Carolina. I would affirm.

Young v. USAA General Indemnity Co. (Lawyers Weekly No. 011-015-22, 12 pp.) (Blake Hewitt, J.) (Aphrodite Konduras, J., dissenting) Appealed from Greenville County Circuit Court (Perry Gravely, J.) Richard Allen and Russell Guest for appellant; Julie Coleman Hunter and Patrick Still for respondent. S.C. App.

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