Injured? Contact Sinas Dramis for a free consultation.


Newsome, et al v Auto Club Insurance Association, et al; (COA-UNP, 04/10/14; RB #3393)


Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket #311367; Unpublished  
Judges Donofrio, Cavanagh, and Jansen; Unanimous, Per Curiam  
Official Michigan Reporter Citation:  Not applicable; Link to Opinion alt    

Compulsory Insurance Requirements for Owners or Registrants of Motor Vehicles Required to be Registered [§3101(1)]  
Definition of Owner [§3101(2)(h)]  
Definition of Registrant [§3101(2)(i)]

Not applicable    

In this unanimous unpublished per curiam Opinion, the Court of Appeals determined that Auto Club was responsible for payment of survivor’s loss PIP benefits to the survivors of Alfreeka Newsome, who died in a single-car accident where the vehicle was titled in the name of her friend, Westbrook, but was insured by Newsome’s mother through GEICO. The court held that under the terms of the policy through GEICO, Newsome was not an eligible injured person because she was not the policyholder, nor was she a resident-relative of the policyholder, her mother. Further, she did not suffer bodily injury “while occupying an insured auto” as required by the policy, because her mother was not required to maintain security on Newsome’s vehicle under the Insurance Code because it was titled in the name of another person, Newsome’s friend, Westbrook.

This case arose from a single car accident in 2009 in which Newsome died. The vehicle in which she was an occupant was titled in the name of her friend, Alvin Westbrook. It was not disputed that Newsome was a “statutory owner of the vehicle” under MCL 500.3101(2)(h)(i), i.e., she had use of the vehicle for more than 30 days. However, the vehicle was actually insured through a policy with GEICO purchased by Newsome’s mother, Debra Mays. Mays testified that when she called her GEICO insurance agent, she informed the agent that the vehicle was going to be located at Newsome’s address in Taylor, Michigan. Newsome did not live with her mother or her mother’s husband. Further, Newsome was not listed as a “named insured” on the policy, and when asked by GEICO who was going to be driving the vehicle, Newsome’s mother testified that she said, “me and my husband, and sometimes my daughter.”

GEICO refused to pay survivor’s loss benefits under the terms of the policy, which defined “eligible injured person” as “any other person who suffers bodily injury while occupying an insured auto.” When GEICO refused to pay, a claim was submitted under the Assigned Claims Facility and assigned to Auto Club. Auto Club asserted that because Newsome was occupying an “insured vehicle,” she satisfied the GEICO definition of “eligible injured person” under the GEICO policy and, therefore, GEICO should pay the survivor’s loss benefits.

In reversing the trial court ruling in favor of Auto Club, the court held that because Newsome was not a named insured on the policy, and because she did not live with her mother, and because the mother was not an owner or registrant of the vehicle, coverage was the obligation of Auto Club, not GEICO. The GEICO policy provided that an “eligible injured person” included the policyholder name in the declaration, his or her spouse if a resident of the same household, and a “relative” defined as a person related by blood, marriage, or adoption. Newsome did not satisfy this definition.

The policy also provided coverage for a person who suffered bodily injury while “occupying an insured auto.” The policy specifically defined an insured auto as:

“An auto with respect to which you are required to maintain security under Chapter 31 of the Michigan Insurance Code and to which the bodily injury liability coverage of this policy applies and for which a specific premium is charged.”

The Court of Appeals held that Newsome did not satisfy the provision relating to “any other person who suffers bodily injury while occupying an insured auto” because the policyholder, Debra Mays, was not required to maintain security on Newsome’s vehicle under the Insurance Code. Therefore, GEICO was not liable under the policy issued to Debra Mays to pay survivor’s loss benefits with regard to Newsome.

Michigan auto accident attorney 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

Copyright © 2024  Sinas Dramis Law Firm, George Sinas, Stephen Sinas.
All Rights Reserved.
Login (Publishers Only)