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Perry v. Perry (COA – UNP 2/28/2017; RB #3618)


Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket # 330966; Unpublished
Judges Borrello, Markey, and Kelly; per curiam
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: Not Applicable; Link to Opinion


Exclusions From Underinsured Motorist Coverage

In this unanimous unpublished per curiam decision, the Court of Appeals held that summary disposition should have been granted for Defendant Progressive Marathon Insurance Company (Progressive) as to Plaintiff Jodi Perry’s claim for underinsured motorist benefits. The Court held that the policy’s definition of “uninsured motor vehicles” included “underinsured motor vehicles,” and that plaintiff—who was injured while traveling as a passenger in her husband’s vehicle—was not entitled to underinsured motorist benefits for injuries resulting from her husband’s negligence, in a vehicle that was insured under the same policy.

Plaintiff was traveling as a passenger in her husband’s Honda Pilot when he rear-ended another vehicle, causing her injuries. The Honda was insured by Progressive; plaintiff’s husband was a named insured and the owner of the vehicle; and plaintiff herself was listed as a driver or household resident in the policy. The policy had a bodily injury liability limit of $20,000, but included uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage of up to $250,000 per person, and up to $500,000 per collision. Plaintiff argued that she was not limited to the $20,000 liability limits, and could instead recover under the $250,000 underinsured motorist coverage clause, because the exclusion for vehicles “owned, furnished, or available to plaintiff and defendant” only applied to uninsured motor vehicles, not underinsured ones.

The Court of Appeals disagreed, holding that underinsured motor vehicles were incorporated into the policy’s definition of “uninsured motor vehicles.” In so holding, the Court considered multiple instances where the two were used in conjunction throughout the policy.

Reading the policy as a whole indicates that the phrase “uninsured motor vehicle” is inclusive of the phrase “underinsured motor vehicle,” and that the exclusions that apply to uninsured motor vehicles also apply to underinsured motor vehicles. Specifically, Part III Section 2e defines “Uninsured motor vehicle” to include a motor vehicle “to which bodily injury liability . . . applies at the time of the accident, but the sum of all applicable limits of liability for bodily injury is less than the coverage limit for Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage shown on the declarations page” (emphasis added). This is a clear reference to underinsured motor vehicles. In other words, the term “uninsured motor vehicle,” incorporates the term “underinsured motor vehicle.” Paragraph 2e clearly references an underinsured motor vehicle— i.e. the paragraph references vehicles that have liability coverage that is less than the “uninsured/underinsured” coverage listed on the Declarations Page. This reading of the policy is further supported by the fact that the term “uninsured/underinsured” is used in several pertinent parts of the policy including the declarations page, the table of contents and the heading of Part III, the part in which the definition at issue is found. Thus, the mere fact that “underinsured motor vehicle” does not have its own separate definition does not create an ambiguity where that term is incorporated into the policy’s definition of “uninsured motor vehicle,” and the trial court erred in concluding otherwise.

As to the issue of whether plaintiff was therefore precluded from recovering underinsured benefits for this collision, the Court determined that she unambiguously was. The Court turned to the relevant provisions in the policy, which provided:

Here, it is undisputed that the Pilot was a covered auto at the time of the accident; therefore, the Pilot could not constitute an “underinsured motor vehicle” for purposes of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Moreover, plaintiff was the spouse of and resided with a named insured who owned the Pilot; therefore, the Pilot could not be considered an uninsured/underinsured motor vehicle for purposes of the policy. In short, under the plain language of the policy, plaintiff was not entitled to recover underinsured motorist benefits.

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

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