The word "automobile" has a relatively precise meaning in its generic sense. But when used in insurance contracts, it may have a meaning varying from such an illogical definition as "animal-drawn equipment" to that of a private-passenger automobile as recognized in the modern age. And by specific definition, the term may include many types of vehicles not included in the generic meaning. In some insurance contracts, the term is defined carefully, and here there may be little disagreement in interpretation. In others the term is not defined at all, or the definition is so broad that any attempt to determine the meaning with any degree of precision leads to substantial disagreement. We shall be concerned with the generic meaning only as it would be applied in those insurance contracts in which the word "automobile" is not defined. Our major interest involves interpretation of the term as it is used in various insurance contracts, and particularly in those in which the meaning is subject to substantial confusion and disagreement. We shall not attempt to consider all the uses of the term in these insurance contracts, but only those which in our opinion are of sufficient importance to justify analysis. We shall consider the term in its generic sense and then in six of its insurance contract uses: general insurance contract definition, temporary substitute automobile, non-owned automobile, automobile furnished for regular use, trailer, and equipment of an automobile.
Curtis M. Elliott,
The Insurance Definition of "Automobile",
46 Neb. L. Rev. 3
Available at: http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/nlr/vol46/iss1/3