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Vukich v. GEICO Ins. Co. (COA – UNP 10/17/2019; RB #3984)


Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket # 341260; Unpublished
Judges Meter, O’Brien, and Swartzle; per curiam
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: Not Applicable; Link to Opinion

Not Applicable

Interpretation of Insurance Contracts

In this unanimous unpublished per curiam decision, the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s denial of the defendant’s motion for summary disposition in the plaintiff’s first-party action to recover no-fault PIP benefits.  The plaintiff, Brett Vukich, had an out-of-state automobile insurance policy with GEICO Casualty Company.  Vukich’s policy did not contain a provision for the payment of Michigan no-fault benefits, and GEICO Casualty Company was neither authorized nor licensed to do business in Michigan under MCL 500.3163.  However, on the cover page of the policy—after the declarations certificate and declarations page— four separate GEICO insurance were listed under the title of the Vukich’s insurance policy, and Vukich argued that this created an ambiguity as to which entity actually insured him, especially considering that two of the companies on the cover page were certified under MCL 500.3163.  The Court of Appeals disagreed, ruling that the policy was unambiguous as to who Vukich’s specific insurer was, and that Vukich was ineligible to receive no-fault benefits.

Brett Vukich was injured in a motor vehicle collision in Michigan.  At the time of the subject collision, Vukich was living in Wisconsin and had a “Wisconsin Family Automobile Insurance Policy” with GEICO Casualty Company.  After the collision, Vukich filed a claim for no-fault PIP benefits with GEICO Casualty Company, but GEICO Casualty denied the claim, asserting that it does not issue Michigan insurance policies and is neither authorized nor licensed to do business in Michigan.   The plaintiff subsequently filed the instant action for breach of contract and fraud, and the trial court denied GEICO Casualty’s motion for summary disposition because the cover page of Vukich’s policy, which listed four separate, affiliated GEICO entities, created an ambiguity as to which entity was Vukich’s insurer.

The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s denial of GEICO Casualty’s motion for summary disposition, finding that Vukich’s policy was unambiguous with regard to the fact that GEICO Casualty was his sole insurer.  And, since GEICO Casualty was not certified in Michigan under MCL 500.3163, Vukich was ineligible to receive no-fault PIP benefits.

A fair reading of plaintiff’s entire insurance contract does not result in conflicting interpretations regarding the identity of plaintiff’s actual insurer, and therefore, the insurance contract must be enforced as written. The plain language of the insurance contract demonstrates that GEICO Casualty was plaintiff’s sole insurer on the date of the accident. The fact that GEICO Casualty is part of the same family of GEICO-insurance companies as GEICO Indemnity and GEICO General Insurance is immaterial. Absent an abuse of corporate form, parent and subsidiary corporations are presumed to be separate and distinct entities. Green v Ziegelman, 310 Mich App 436, 451; 873 NW2d 794 (2015) (cleaned up). Plaintiff does not claim that an abuse of corporate form has occurred, and therefore, each GEICO-related entity must be treated as a separate corporate entity.

Plaintiff’s unambiguous insurance contract provides that GEICO Casualty was plaintiff’s sole insurer on the date of the accident. Because plaintiff is a Wisconsin resident who holds a Wisconsin insurance policy from GEICO Casualty, which is neither certified in Michigan under the former version of MCL 500.3163 nor authorized to sell insurance in Michigan, plaintiff is ineligible to receive Michigan no-fault benefits. Accordingly, defendant is entitled to summary disposition as a matter of law.

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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