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Auto Owners Insurance Company v Lewis; (COA-UNP, 7/8/1992; RB #1552)


Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket No. 129416; Unpublished  
Judges Brennan, MacKenzie, and T. M. Burns; Unanimous; Per Curiam 
Official Michigan Reporter Citation:  Not Applicable; Link to Opinion alt   

Not Applicable

Private Contract (Meaning and Intent)  
Uninsured Motorist Benefits: Uninsured Motorist Coverage in General 
Uninsured Motorist Benefits: Exclusions from Uninsured Motorist Benefits    

In this unanimous per curiam Opinion, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court interpretation of an uninsured motorist provision, holding that the driver of an uninsured motorcycle injured in a collision with an uninsured motorist, was not entitled to uninsured motorist benefits from the motorcyclist wife's no-fault automobile insurer. The issue was whether a motorcycle is a motor vehicle within the meaning of the policy exclusion for uninsured motor vehicles. 

The applicable policy language issued to Ronald Lewis' wife covered three automobiles. The policy provided uninsured motorist coverage, but contained an exclusion which stated:

"This coverage shall not apply... to bodily injury to an insured sustained while in, upon, entering or alighting from any motor vehicle owned by the named insured, spouse, or a relative of either who is a resident of the same household, unless a premium charge for this coverage is shown in the declarations for such vehicle."

Although Mr. Lewis, as the operator of the motorcycle, was legally entitled to recover damages from the owner or operator of the uninsured automobile, the court held that he was excluded from coverage under the language of the uninsured motorist clause because he was a spouse of and a resident of the same household of the insured, and no premium charge for uninsured motorist coverage was shown on the declarations page for the motorcycle. The trial court had concluded that a "motorcycle" is a "motor vehicle" within the meaning of the exclusion. Therefore, Mr. Lewis was required to pay a premium in order to be eligible for uninsured motorist coverage while operating the motorcycle.  

The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court determination that a motorcycle was a "motor vehicle" for purposes of the exclusion, and relied upon the Supreme Court decision in Bianchi v Automobile Club of Michigan, 437 Mich 65 (1991).  

The Court of Appeals also rejected Lewis' argument that the "automatic insurance for newly acquired automobiles" provision of his wife's policy provided automatic coverage, since the motorcycle was purchased 17 days prior to the accident. The court noted that neither Lewis nor his wife informed Auto Owners that the motorcycle had been purchased. Neither paid an additional premium for the motorcycle to be covered. Further, the court rejected the argument that the motorcycle was an additional "automobile."  

Lansing car accident lawyer Stephen Sinas is the lead editor of the appellate case summaries published on this site regarding the Michigan auto insurance law. To learn more about how Stephen Sinas and how the Sinas Dramis Law Firm can help you if you have been injured in a Michigan auto accident, visit

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