Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket No. 178479; Unpublished
Judges White, Sawyer, and Pajtas; 2-1 (with Judge White Dissenting); Per Curiam
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: Not Applicable; Link to Opinion
Cancellation of Auto Liability Policies (MCL 500.3204, et seq.)
This 2-1 unpublished per curiam Opinion, with Judge White dissenting, holds that the defendant insurance company could properly refuse to renew plaintiffs insurance contract without providing written notice because, under the terms of the policy, notice is not required where plaintiff failed to make timely premium payments.
Plaintiff Anthony Morales was injured in an accident that occurred six days after his insurance policy with defendant had expired. Defendant failed to renew the policy because Morales had a poor driving record. Plaintiff asserted that defendant never mailed a notice of renewal as required by the policy. However, the trial court granted summary disposition to defendant which was affirmed by the Court of Appeals on the basis that, under the language of the policy, defendant was not required to provide notice. The policy stated, "notwithstanding the failure of the company to comply with the foregoing provisions of this paragraph [regarding notice] this policy shall terminate on such expiration date if the named insured has failed to discharge when due any of his obligations in connection with the payment of premium for this policy, or any installment thereof...." The trial court found that plaintiff had failed to make timely payment of premium, and therefore defendant could refuse to renew plaintiff’s insurance contract without providing notice.
The plaintiff did not argue that this clause was inapplicable or that plaintiff had paid the premium, but rather contended that defendant was estopped from enforcing the clause. The court rejected this estoppel argument and found that defendant had made no representations, either express or implied, that it would not enforce the notice exception language. Therefore, the defendant was entitled to not renew the policy without providing notice.
Judge White dissented, concluding that when the policy was read as a whole, it required that defendant send a notice of non-renewal even where the insured had been late with premium payments and a question of fact existed as to whether such notice was sent.