Interpreting Insurance Contracts And Insurance Policies

1197 WordsOct 12, 20165 Pages
A. Interpreting Insurance Contracts In Maryland, insurance policies are generally construed in the same manner as contracts. Collier v. MD-Individual Practice Ass 'n, Inc., 327 Md. 1, 5, 607 A.2d 537 (1992). An insurance contract, like any other contract, is measured by its terms unless a statute, a regulation, or public policy is violated thereby. Pac. Indem. Co. v. Interstate Fire & Cas. Co., 302 Md. 383, 388, 488 A.2d 486 (1985). We do not follow the rule, adopted in other jurisdictions, that an insurance policy is to be construed most strongly against the insurer. Collier, 327 Md. at 5; Cheney, 315 Md. at 766. We construe the instrument as a whole in order to determine the parties’ intent. Pac. Indem., 302 Md. at 388; Collier, 327 Md. at 5; Aragona v. St. Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co., 281 Md. 371, 375, 378 A.2d 1346 (1977). In order to determine the intention of the parties, “Maryland courts should examine the character of the contract, its purpose, and the facts and circumstances of the parties at the time of execution.” Pac. Indem., 302 Md. at 388 (citations omitted). In doing so, we give the words their usual, ordinary, and accepted meanings. Id.; Mut. Fire Ins. Co. v. Ackerman, 162 Md. App. 1, 5, 872 A.2d 110 (2005) (citing Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co. v. Scherr, 101 Md. App. 690, 695, 647 A.2d 1297 (1994)). The test is what meaning a reasonably prudent layperson would attach to the term. Pac. Indem., 302 Md. at 388. Chang v. Brethren Mut. Ins. Co., 168 Md. App. 534,

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