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Mapes v Auto Club Insurance Company; (COA-PUB, 12/6/1994; RB #1750)


Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket No. 148806; Published  
Judges Weaver, Cavanagh, and Schmucker; Unanimous; Per Curiam  
Official Michigan Reporter Citation:  208 Mich App 5; Link to Opinion alt   

Not Applicable

Michigan Property and Casualty Guaranty Association (MPCGA – MCL 500.7901, et seq.)   
Uninsured Motorist Benefits: Notice and Statute of Limitations for Uninsured Motorist Coverage    

In this unanimous per curiam published Opinion, the Court of Appeals reversed summary disposition which had been granted in favor of the defendant insurance company on the grounds that plaintiffs claim for uninsured motorist benefits was untimely.  

The accident in this case occurred in October, 1987, after which plaintiff commenced negotiations with the other driver's insurance carrier, Cadillac Insurance Company. On January 3,1990, the Michigan Insurance Bureau notified plaintiff that Cadillac was insolvent. On June 27,1990, plaintiff filed a proof of claim with the Michigan Insurance Bureau. On August 20, 1990, the Michigan Property & Casualty Guarantee Association informed plaintiff that under MCLA 500.7931(3) plaintiff was required to pursue an uninsured motorist claim before he would be eligible to recover from that association. On November 12, 1990, plaintiff notified his insurer, AAA insurance company of his uninsured motorist claim. AAA denied the claim for uninsured motorist benefits on the basis of a policy provision which required a claim to be brought within three years of the date of the accident The Michigan Property & Casualty Guarantee Association in turn denied plaintiffs claim because of plaintiff s delay in pursuing his uninsured motorist claim.  

In reversing the trial court determination that plaintiffs claim was untimely because not filed within three years from the date of the accident, the Court of Appeals held that the statute of limitations on an insurance contract begins to run from the date an insured has a legally enforceable claim against the insurer. Although an insurer may contractually shorten the statutory six year limitations period for bringing a claim for recovery of uninsured motorist benefits, and although the three year time limitation imposed by the policy is not unreasonable, in this case the plaintiff did not have a "legally enforceable uninsured motorist claim until January 3, 1990," because, in effect, the alleged tortfeasor was not uninsured until that date. Therefore, plaintiff had three years from January 3, 1990 to pursue his uninsured motorist claim.

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