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Kennard v Liberty Mut Ins (COA – PUB 3/3/2022; RB #4391)   

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Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket #355462; Published  
Judges Jansen, Cameron, and Rick; Per Curiam 
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: Forthcoming; Link to Opinion


STATUTORY INDEXING: 
Not Applicable

TOPICAL INDEXING: 
Casualty Insurance Policies – Minimum Coverages and Required Provisions (MCL 500.3009)


SUMMARY: 
In this unanimous, published decision authored by Judge Cameron, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s summary disposition order dismissing Doris Kennard’s first-party action against Liberty Mutual Insurance Company (“Liberty Mutual”).  The Court of Appeals held that MCL 500.3012 did not operate to convert Kennard’s Maryland automobile insurance policy into a Michigan no-fault insurance policy, after Kennard informed Liberty Mutual, in the middle of the policy term, that she was moving to Michigan.

Doris Kennard obtained automobile insurance coverage from Liberty Mutual while living in Maryland.  In October of 2017, Kennard informed Liberty Mutual that she would be moving to Michigan provided Liberty Mutual with her mother’s address in Van Buren Township.  Approximately one month after the move, Kennard was injured in a motor vehicle collision.  She sought Michigan no-fault PIP benefits from Liberty Mutual under her policy, but Liberty Mutual denied her claim, arguing that Kennard was a Maryland resident and that it was not, therefore, required to comply with the Michigan no-fault act.  Kennard filed the underlying first-party action, arguing that her communication to Liberty Mutual regarding her intention to move to Michigan operated to bring her policy into compliance with the Michigan no-fault act.  Liberty Mutual moved for summary disposition, which the trial court granted.

The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s summary disposition, rejecting Kennard’s argument that Liberty Mutual was in violation of MCL 500.3012 by not converting her policy into a Michigan no-fault policy upon discovering her intention to move to Michigan.  MCL 500.3012 provides, in pertinent part:

“Such a liability insurance policy issued in violation of [MCL 500.3004 through MCL 500.3012 of the No-Fault Act] shall, nevertheless, be held valid but be deemed to include the provisions required by such sections, and when any provision in such policy or rider is in conflict with the provisions required to be contained by such sections, the rights, duties and obligations of the insured, the policyholder and the injured person shall be governed by the provisions of such sections. [Emphasis added]” 

Pursuant to Farm Bureau Ins Co v Allstate Ins Co, 233 Mich App 38 (1998), the Court noted that the basic purpose of MCL 500.3012 is to prevent out-of-state insurers from issuing insurance policies that do not comply with the Michigan no-fault act to individuals they know are Michigan residents.  In such cases, the policies will “be construed to contain the missing provisions of the no-fault act.”  By the same token, however, “[i]f the out-of-state insurer does not know and has no reason to know that it is ‘dealing with a Michigan resident,’ ” the policy will not be so construed.

The Court of Appeals held that MCL 500.3012 had nothing to do with the present case: Liberty Mutual did not issue an automobile insurance policy not in compliance with the no-fault act to an individual it knew to be a Michigan resident.  It issued a Maryland policy to an individual who, at that time, was a Maryland resident.  Thus, it was not compelled by MCL 500.3012 or any other law of the State of Michigan to convert Kennard’s policy, which was already in effect, into one that complied with the Michigan no-fault act upon Kennard’s move.

“The issue in this case is very different from the issue resolved by State Farm. In this case, there is no dispute that defendant properly issued a Maryland policy to plaintiff, who was a Maryland resident at the time the time policy was issued. Plaintiff’s argument on appeal is that she informed defendant during the policy year that she was moving to Michigan and that she believed that the information she had provided converted her out-of-state policy to a Michigan policy. Although plaintiff presented an affidavit to support that she moved to Michigan ‘on or about October 2, 2017’ and that she informed defendant “[a]round that same time’ that she ‘was moving to Michigan,’ there is no evidence that defendant issued another policy that purported to be a Michigan policy. Indeed, plaintiff provided the Maryland insurance policy to law enforcement after the November 2017 accident. Because there is no evidence that defendant knew or should have known that it was issuing a policy to a Michigan resident, neither MCL 500.3012 nor this Court’s opinion in Farm Bureau support that plaintiff is entitled to relief. Consequently, even when viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to plaintiff, we conclude that the trial court did not err by granting summary disposition in favor of defendant.” 


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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