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Thursday, May 12, 2016

VANESSA RIVERA VS. ELMER F. MCCRAY, III, AND NEW JERSEY RE-INSURANCE COMPANY A-2337-14T1

VANESSA RIVERA VS. ELMER F. MCCRAY, III, AND NEW JERSEY RE-INSURANCE COMPANY 
A-2337-14T1 

This appeal requires us to interpret an underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage step-down provision in a personal automobile insurance policy, issued by defendant New Jersey Re-Insurance Company (NJM). The issue presented is whether a "special policy," see N.J.S.A. 39:6A-3.3, which provides no UIM coverage at all, provides "similar coverage" so as to trigger the step-down provision and reduce UIM coverage to zero. Based on the plain language of the NJM policy and well-established principles of insurance contract interpretation, we conclude it does not. We therefore reverse the trial court's order dismissing plaintiff's claim to UIM coverage under the NJM policy.