Legal Memorandum: Named Insured on an Insurance Policy

Issue: Who is a ‘named insured’ on a motor vehicle insurance policy?

Area of Law: Insurance Law
Keywords: Motor vehicle insurance policy; Named insured
Jurisdiction: Federal
Cited Cases: 46 Cal. 2d 423; 294 So. 2d 736
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 12/01/2001

An argument that an individual must be a “named insured” must be resolved with the ambiguity in the policy as to whether all “insureds” or merely “named insureds” have coverage.  Any such ambiguity must be resolved in favor of broader coverage.  Continental Cas. Co. v. Phoenix Constr. Co. (1956) 46 Cal. 2d 423, 427.

In any event, even if the policy could be construed to limit coverage to “named insureds,” the court should look through form to substance and regard an individual as a “named insured.”  See Dixie Auto Ins. Co. v. Safeco Ins. Co. of Am. (Ala. 1974) 294 So. 2d 736.  In Dixie, the insurer knew that the driver was the principal operator of an insured vehicle and, therefore, the court treated him as a “named insured” even though the policy did not list him as such.  Id. at 738.

Also see Giovanna v. Vigilant Insurance Co. (1984) 156 Cal. App. 3d 368, for a contrary rule.  However, in Giovanna the driver there was listed on the policy as an “occasional driver.”


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