Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket # 324698 and # 325225; Unpublished
Judges Beckering, Gleicher, and Kelly; Unanimous; Per Curiam
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: Not Applicable; Link to Opinion Link to Conc. Opinion
Obligation of Non-Resident Owner/Registrant to Insure a Vehicle [§3102(1)]
Obligations of Admitted Insurers to Pay PIP Benefits on Behalf of Nonresidents Injured in Michigan [§3163(1)]
In this unanimous unpublished per curiam Opinion involving a claim for benefits against an insurer subject to MCL 500.3163, the Court of Appeals held that plaintiff was not entitled to PIP benefits under the out-of-state residency provisions in §3163(1), because she had established her domicile in Michigan just before the incident that resulted in her injuries.
Plaintiff in this case was the spouse of a service member and temporarily lived in Virginia. Shortly after she moved back to Lansing, Michigan from Virginia, she was injured in a road-rage incident. The vehicle she was driving was insured by defendant Geico, which was subject to the provisions in §3163. When plaintiff sought PIP benefits, Geico denied benefits, asserting the policy did not provide no-fault coverage. Plaintiff argued that, although the policy was not issued as a no-fault policy, benefits were still available under §3163 because she was an out-of-state resident. The trial court granted summary disposition for plaintiff, concluding she was domiciled in Virginia, §3163 applied, and Geico was liable for benefits.
The Court of Appeals reversed, finding that plaintiff was domiciled in Michigan at the time of the accident, was not an out-of-state resident, and therefore §3163(1) did not apply. In this regard, the court said:
“[O]nce [plaintiff] arrived in Lansing, Michigan, there is evidence that [she] intended to adopt a new domicile, at least for an indefinite period, in Michigan. … The undisputed facts demonstrated that [plaintiff] had established her domicile in Lansing, Michigan just before her accident. As such, she was not an ‘out-of-state resident’ and MCL 500.3163 did not apply. Consequently, the trial court erred when it applied MCL 500.3163 to require Geico to provide [plaintiff] with Michigan no-fault benefits. The trial court should have granted Geico’s motion for summary disposition.”
The Court of Appeals further rejected plaintiff’s estoppel argument, agreeing with Geico that because plaintiff resided in Michigan for a period of time without purchasing no-fault insurance, this relieved Geico of the obligation to pay PIP benefits under Michigan law.
In light of the foregoing, the Court of Appeals concluded:
“Under the undisputed facts, [plaintiff] had become domiciled in Michigan by the time she was injured and was not, as such, an ‘out-of-state resident’ for purposes of MCL 500.3163. Because [she] was not an ‘out-of-state resident,’ the trial court erred when it determined that Geico was obligated to pay Michigan no-fault benefits … under MCL 500.3163. The trial court should have granted Geico’s motion for summary disposition and dismissed [plaintiff’s] claims against Geico.”
Judge Gleicher, in a separate concurring opinion, reasoned that because plaintiff’s injuries did not arise from the “operation or use” of her vehicle, Geico was therefore “off the hook.”