Cohen v Auto Club Insurance Ass’n; (MSC-PUB, 1/17/2001, RB#2176)


Michigan Supreme Court; Docket No. 116473; Published                             
Justices Corrigan, Cavanagh, Weaver, Kelly, Taylor, and Markman; unanimous; per curiam
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: 463 Mich 525, Link to Opinion alt

Not applicable

Motor Vehicle Code (Financial Responsibility Act) (MCL 257.501, Et Seq.)
Uninsured Motorist Benefits

In this unanimous (6-0) per curiam opinion, the Michigan Supreme Court held that an insurance company could void uninsured motorist coverage pursuant to a clause in the insurance policy that authorized the insurer to void the entire policy, if the insured person misrepresented any material fact relating to a claim.  In this particular case, the insured sustained injury as a result of the negligence of an uninsured motorist.  During the course of processing her no-fault wage loss claim, the insured allegedly misrepresented material facts relating to the wage loss claim.  Subsequently, the insured brought an uninsured motorist claim against the insurer seeking non-economic loss.  The insurer, relying upon the aforementioned clause, declared the uninsured motorist coverage void.  The trial court and the Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the insured person and the Supreme Court reversed.

In reversing the lower courts, the Supreme Court focused on the fact that uninsured motorist coverage is not required by statute.  Therefore, MCLA 257.520(g) would permit such non-mandatory coverage to be voidable if policy conditions were not complied with.  In ruling that the insurer had the right to void the uninsured motorist coverage, the Supreme Court made it clear, however, that it did not decide the question of whether the clause could void the entire insurance policy, including the section dealing with no-fault PIP benefits.  Rather, the court confined its decision to holding only that the insurer was entitled to void the optional uninsured motorist coverage because of the insured’s misrepresentation during the claim process.