The Court of Appeals of Arkansas has held that the definition of “motor vehicle” under a homeowner’s policy is ambiguous and does not include a mobile boom lift. Farmers Ins. Exchange v. Bradford, 2015 Ark. App. 253 (Ark. App. April 22, 2015).
The insured owned a mobile boom lift for use in his business. It had four wheels and a motor and was capable of moving, but at less than 5 miles per hour. The insured was using the boom lift at his home when it tipped over and injured a third party. His insurer denied coverage for the claim by the injured party based on a “motor vehicle” exclusion in the policy and filed a declaratory judgment action against the insured. The policy defined the term “motor vehicle,” in part, as a machine “designed for movement on land.” The trial court looked to statutory and dictionary definitions of the term vehicle and concluded that the boom lift was not a “motor vehicle.” It dismissed the insurer’s complaint with prejudice, and the insurer appealed.
The appeals court appeared to agree that it was error for the trial court to have considered extrinsic definitions of the term “vehicle” when the term “motor vehicle” was defined in the policy. But it affirmed the judgment, finding that the policy definition was ambiguous. It explained that the phrase “designed for” could mean that the machine must be intended to be used as a means of conveyance. Implicit in the holding is the notion that the boom lift is not intended to be used as a means of conveyance.