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Youhanna v. Auto Club Ins. Assoc., et al. (COA - UNP; 4/30/2019; RB # 3899)

Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket # 342436; Unpublished
Judges Markey, Fort Hood, and Gadola; per curiam
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: Not Applicable; Link to Opinion


STATUTORY INDEXING:
Exception for Employer Provided Vehicles [§500.3114(3)]

TOPICAL INDEXING:
Not Applicable


SUMMARY:

In this unanimous unpublished per curiam decision involving a priority dispute between three separate automobile insurers, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s denial of defendant Hudson Insurance Company’s motion for reconsideration of the trial court’s summary disposition order in favor of defendant Amerisure Insurance Company.  The Court of Appeals determined that the injured driver of a tractor-trailer qualified for the employer-provided vehicle exception under MCL 500.3114(3), and was therefore entitled to no-fault PIP benefits from the insurer of the furnished vehicle.  The truck was insured by Hudson Insurance Company and leased to the driver’s employer, whose other vehicles were insured by Amerisure Insurance Company.   The driver, himself, was insured by Auto Club Insurance Association.  The Court of Appeals determined that the driver’s employer “owned” the vehicle for purposes of the No-Fault Act, thus entitling the driver to no-fault PIP benefits from the “insurer of the furnished vehicle,” Hudson Insurance Company.

This case arises out of an accident sustained by a driver of a tractor-trailer.  The truck was purchased by Waleed Youhanna and registered in his name and the name of his business, Wally Transportation Inc.  Waleed insured the truck under a “bobtail” policy from Hudson and subsequently leased the truck to Safe Transport, LLC.  A driver for Safe Transport was injured while driving the truck and sought no-fault PIP benefits from the insurer of his personal vehicle, Auto Club, and later added Hudson and Amerisure as defendants.  A priority dispute ensued, which the Court of Appeals synopsized thusly:

The three insurers moved for summary disposition. Auto Club moved for summary disposition under MCR 2.116(C)(10), arguing that it was not first in priority because it insured plaintiff regarding plaintiff’s personal automobile only. Amerisure moved for summary disposition under MCR 2.116(C)(8) and (10), arguing that is was not obligated to pay PIP benefits to plaintiff because the vehicle in question was not covered under its policy with Safe Transport. Hudson also moved for summary disposition, contending that under MCL 500.3114(3), plaintiff, as an employee of Safe Transport, was entitled to PIP benefits from Amerisure as the insurer of the furnished vehicle. The trial court granted summary disposition to Auto Club and Amerisure. The trial court thereafter denied Hudson’s motion for reconsideration of its order granting Amerisure summary disposition.

Hudson contended on appeal that the tractor-trailer was covered by Amerisure at the time of the accident and that Amerisure was liable for paying no-fault PIP benefits.  Specifically, “Hudson argue[d] that because Amerisure issued a policy of no-fault insurance to Safe Transport, Amerisure is the insurer of the vehicle from whom [the driver/employee] is entitled to receive PIP benefits under MCL 500.3114(3).”  However, the Court pointed out that “the Amerisure policy issued to Safe Transport explicitly covers just four vehicles, none of which is the vehicle Safe Transport leased from Wally in which Youhanna was injured.”  Hudson argued that the vehicle fell under the “after acquired vehicle” provision of Amerisure’s policy, an argument the Court rejected, reasoning: 

In this case, the Amerisure policy specifies that an automobile that was acquired after the policy went into effect will be covered under that policy “only if” two conditions are met, one condition being that Safe Transport notify Amerisure to add the newly acquired vehicle to the policy. Unlike the situation in Hobby, which involved a replacement vehicle, the tractor-trailer at issue in this case was, like the vehicle involved in Winter, an after-acquired vehicle.4 The policy language, in this case, is also distinct from the policy language in Hobby and comparable to the policy language of Winter, with the policy in Winter stating that coverage does not take effect “unless” notice is given the insurer, and the policy here stating that it takes effect “only if” notice is given. The effect of these provisions is the same—coverage will not occur in the absence of notice. We therefore conclude that, as in Winter, and unlike Hobby, the policy language in this case did not create a grace period that affords coverage despite the failure of Safe Transport to advise Amerisure of its intention to add the vehicle to the existing policy.

The tractor-trailer was not covered under the Amerisure policy, therefore, making Hudson the insurer of highest priority.


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 SinasDramis.com.

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