Republic further argues in support of the validity of Special Endorsement No. 4 that restrictive endorsements excluding coverage have always been recognized, citing numerous authority therefore. It cannot be denied that the right of an insurer to limit its coverage has been repeatedly upheld. Continental Cas. Co. v. Phoenix Constr. Co., sets forth the general rule: ‘An insurance company has the right to limit the coverage of a policy issued by it and when it has done so, the plain language of the limitation must be respected.’
Recognizing this rule the court in the Wildman case, however, excepted therefrom the restrictive endorsement that contravenes the law or public policy, disapproved any endorsement excluding coverage of a permissive user of an insured’s automobile; and rejected, as without merit, the contention that the company had the right in this kind of circumstance to limit its coverage. The court Bonfils v. Pacific Automobile Ins. Co. was faced with the same argument. Conceding that an insurer has the right to limit its coverage, the court therein stated: ‘However, any such limitation must conform to the law; if contrary to public policy it is void.’ It is clear that all restrictive endorsements are subject to the law and public policy and if any coverage restriction contravenes the same, it shall be null and void. In issuing its policy, Republic not only impliedly agreed to conform to the law, but expressly provided that ‘such insurance as is afforded by this policy for bodily injury liability or property damage liability shall comply with the provisions of the motor vehicle financial responsibility law which shall be applicable with respect to any such liability arising out of the ownership, maintenance or use during the policy period of any automobile insured hereunder’.
Republic finally contends that its policy was neither a ‘motor vehicle liability policy’ under the Wildman decision or the Financial Responsibility Law, nor so intended by either the insured or insurer. It claims that Special Endorsement No. 4 relates only to the garage operation of Max Barish, Inc., and as to vehicles owned and used by Barish it was solely a general liability policy intended to cover only the operation of an automobile agency and garage in which the ownership of certain vehicles was covered under specifically designated circumstances, and then only incidental to the general liability. Republic denies that the rule in the Wildman case applies to that portion of the policy pertaining to the use of automobiles in connection with the operation of the garage.
Republic’s policy is entitled ‘Comprehensive Liability Policy (General-Automobile) Pacific Coast,’ was issued to Max Barish, Inc., and provides for compliance with the motor vehicle financial responsibility act. Although it provides other coverage, it is obvious that the policy also covers personal injury and property damage ‘arising out of the ownership, maintenance, or use of any automobile.’ Insuring Agreement 1(A), (C). Reference to motor vehicle liability runs throughout the terms, conditions and provisions of this policy to such an extent that it would be burdensome to here relate them, and although Republic has attempted to limit its coverage by numerous attached endorsements, it is apparent that it constitutes a motor vehicle liability policy. Republic attempts to make a distinction between the permissive use of a vehicle lent to a friend or member of the insured’s family, and the permissive use of a vehicle lent by the garage operation of the insured to a customer thereof, in its claim that the latter was not contemplated under its policy and no premium was paid therefore. Whether the permissive use of the Barish owned automobile is to a family member, a friend, or by way of a loan to a garage customer, is of little import insofar as concerns the protection the public has a right to expect. The Wildman decision did not limit the permissive user to any particular person or class of persons, but applied the rule of protection to all persons driving the insured’s car with permission. Said the court: ‘the policy must be construed as extending coverage to persons suffering bodily injury or property damage caused by the vehicle in question when it was being driven by the named insured, or members of their immediate family, and also by someone else driving the vehicle with the consent and permission of the named insured.’ Republic contends, however, that its policy does not deprive the public of protection because Steinberg was covered by American’s policy and the persons injured were already protected. This argument is met by public policy considerations, the provisions of the automobile Financial Responsibility Law and the basic protection guaranteed thereunder for the benefit of drivers and owners of motor vehicles as well as the public who might suffer injury. The position advanced by Republic, that the rule for the benefit of the public developed in the Wildman case, arose out of a dispute between one injured and the insured and does not apply to a controversy between two insurers, finds no support in the law in this state. Forecasting the rule in the Wildman case, the court in Continental Cas. Co. v. Phoenix Constr. Co., involving a dispute between two insurance companies, discussed at length the financial responsibility statute, and the protection the public has the right to expect.
Republic’s suggestion that it is unfair to extend the coverage because the premium charged Barish did not include any driver other than the insured, we deem to be without merit particularly where the endorsement restricting liability is contrary to the law with which the insurer is bound to comply.
Even though the accident occurred March 27, 1956, before the 1957 amendment to section 415, Republic argues that neither section 415 then in effect, nor the Wildman decision is controlling. It reasons that, although the Supreme Court there held that sections 402 and 415 were ‘intended by the Legislature to be, and are, a part of every policy of motor vehicle liability insurance,’ when section 415 was amended in 1957 the legislature expressed its disapproval of the court’s holding by amending the definition of ‘motor vehicle liability policy’ to include only policies ‘certified as provided in section 414’; and that contrary to the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Wildman decision, the legislature actually never intended section 415 be read into any policy of liability insurance except those ‘certified.’ It is conceded that Republic’s policy was not certified. The Supreme Court was explicit in its pronouncement that sections 402 and 415 be read into ‘every policy’ of motor vehicle liability insurance. We cannot construe therein any limitation to certified or any other particular type of motor vehicle liability policy. Since the 1957 amendment is not retroactive, and the policies in question must be construed under the law as it existed on March 27, 1956, we are not constrained to discuss further the tenuous position advanced.