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Titan Insurance Company v Cincinnati Insurance Company and Frankenmuth Mutual Insurance Company; (COA-UNP, 6/24/2004, RB #2471)

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Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket No. 245940; Unpublished
Judges Neff, Zahra, and Murray; unanimous; per curiam
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: Not applicable; Link to Opinion alt


STATUTORY INDEXING: 
General Rule of Priority [3114(1)] 
Exception for Occupants [3114(4)] 

TOPICAL INDEXING: 
No-Fault Insurer Claims for Reimbursement: Insurer Assigned Claims Reimbursement


CASE SUMMARY: 
In this unanimous unpublished per curiam opinion, the Court of Appeals interpreted the priority provisions of §3114(1) and (4) and determined that Cincinnati, as insurer of the vehicle occupied at the time of the accident, was the priority insurer for PIP benefits, pursuant to §3114(4), rather than Frankenmuth, which did not insure the injured driver under its policy.

Richard Bonk, as an employee of Hamilton Electric, normally drove a vehicle leased by Hamilton and insured by Frankenmuth. Bonk sustained injuries while occupying a vehicle insured by Cincinnati. He then sought personal injury protection benefits from both Cincinnati and Frankenmuth. The matter was assigned to Titan Insurance under the Assigned Claims Facility Plan, which then sought reimbursement for the benefits they paid to Bonk.

Cincinnati, as insurer of the vehicle involved in the accident, argued that Bonk was an additional insured under Frankenmuth’s policy and pursuant to 3114(1), Frankenmuth had priority for payment of the PIP benefits. Frankenmuth argued that because Bonk was not occupying a vehicle insured under its policy when injured, Cincinnati was first in priority under 3114(4)(a).

On appeal from the trial court finding that Cincinnati was obligated to reimburse Titan, the Court of Appeals held that §3114(1) sets forth the primary rule regarding the applicability of personal protection insurance liability. That rule states:

“Except as provided in subsections (2), (3), and (5), a personal protection insurance policy described in section 3101(1) applies to accidental bodily injury to the person named in the policy, the person’s spouse, and a relative of either domiciled in the same household, if the injury arises from a motor vehicle accident.”

Cincinnati, as the insurer of the vehicle occupied, argued that the primary rule of priority set forth in 3114(1) required that Frankenmuth provide the coverage for Bonk as a named insured in the policy, rather than §3114(4), which provides that the insurer of the owner or registrant of the vehicle occupied provides coverage.

In rejecting Cincinnati’s argument, the Court of Appeals found that Bonk was not a “named insured” under Frankenmuth’s policy and, therefore, the provisions of 3114(4) applied.

In its determination, the Court of Appeals noted that the Frankenmuth policy identified Hamilton Electric, Bonk’s employer, as the “named insured.” The amended declarations page specifically lists Bonk under the designation “additional insured auto #: 20.” However, the declarations page does not indicate who or what is the additional insured. In general, a designation of a person as a driver of a vehicle does not make a person a named insured under a policy. The policy defined “insured” as (1) you or any family member; and (2) anyone else who sustains bodily injury while occupying a covered auto.

Under the plain terms of the policy, Bonk was neither an insured nor was he injured while utilizing a covered automobile. Therefore, the provisions of 3114(4) require coverage to be paid by Cincinnati as insurer of the vehicle occupied by Bonk at the time of the accident.


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 SinasDramis.com.

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