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Knox v DAIIE; (COA-UNP, 6/22/1987; RB #1062)


Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket No. 98520; Unpublished  
Judges Wahls, MacKenzie, and Hood; Unanimous; Per Curiam  
Official Michigan Reporter Citation:  Not Applicable; Link to Opinion alt   

Not Applicable

Insurance Agents (Duty to Insured)
Private Contract (Meaning and Intent)
Uninsured Motorist Benefits: Uninsured Motorist Coverage in General    

In this unanimous per curiam Opinion, the Court of Appeals on remand from the Supreme Court, reaffirmed its earlier decision holding that the insurance company defendant had an affirmative duty to inform plaintiff of the availability of uninsured motorist coverage where a special relationship existed between plaintiff and defendant's agent.

The defendant insurance company had appealed from a jury verdict holding defendant liable for uninsured motorist benefits that compensated plaintiff for injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident. The insurance company contended no duty existed on its part to inform plaintiff of the availability of uninsured motorist coverage.

The Court of Appeals held that where a "special relationship" exists, the insurer has a duty to advise the insured regarding a policy's coverage and is liable for breaching that duty.

In this case, plaintiff testified that he had requested "full coverages" and left it up to the agent to complete the paperwork. The defendant had carried all of plaintiff s and plaintiff's family's automobile insurance policies for five years. Its agent had written out plaintiff’s insurance application in response to questions posed to plaintiff. Plaintiff had specifically requested "full coverage," and, on other occasions, a request for "full coverage" from defendant prompted the inclusion of uninsured motorist protection. The Court of Appeals found that the parties, under these circumstances, shared a "special relationship," such that defendant had a duty to inform plaintiff about the adequacy of his policy regarding uninsured motorist coverage. The Court noted that in this case, the defendant held itself out as an expert in the field of automobile insurance. Plaintiff clearly relied on defendant's expertise, as was evidenced by his trusting reliance on defendant to give him "full coverage" as requested.

[Author's Comment: See also the decision in Dixon v DAIIE (Item No. 582), a 1982 decision in which the Court of Appeals rejected a claim of duty to make known the availability of uninsured motorist coverage. See also the following case, Bruner v League General (Item No. 1063).]

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