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Michigan Supreme Court Holds Decision that Policyholder is Entitled to No-Fault Insurnace Even When Coverage is Purchased by Someone Else - Insurance Coverage

Insurance Coverage

Posted on: Aug 27, 2019

By Jon Noyes, Wilson Kehoe Winingham

Interpreting Michigan’s No-Fault Statute, the Michigan Supreme Court held an owner or registrant of a motor vehicle is not required to personally purchase no-fault insurance to avoid being barred from receiving personal injury protection (“PIP”) benefits. Rather, the statute only requires that the owner maintain the No-Fault insurance at the time of the accident for which PIP benefits are sought.

Matthew Dye, a 32-year-old, fully employed member of the National Guard asked his father to register his vehicle and obtain no-fault insurance on his behalf. The father did so, purchasing coverage from Esurance. However, the vehicle’s policy identified the father, and not Matthew, as the named insured, while his wife’s vehicle was insured in her name through GEICO. As a result, Matthew was not listed as an insured under either policy and never technically purchased insurance himself.

Matthew was involved in a motor vehicle collision and sustained a traumatic brain injury. He sought PIP benefits, but GEICO denied coverage. It posited that because Matthew owned his vehicle, but had not personally insured it, he was not entitled to PIP benefits under the no-fault statute. 

After analyzing the no-fault statute, the court posited that insurance need only be maintained on a vehicle in order for its driver to enjoy no-fault insurance. It does not require that the owner or the registrant of the vehicle personally obtain the insurance. It reasoned that the legislature intended no fault insurance be expansive and available to Michigan citizens, so it would be illogical to impose such technical requirements for the coverage to apply.

Dye v. Esurance Property & Casualty Insurance Company, 155784, (Mich. July 11, 2019).

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