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Another Underinsured/Uninsured exclusion from coverage upheld

Gary Owens bought Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UM/UIM) from Auto Owners Insurance Company. He was standing on the sidewalk minding his own business when he was struck by a van whose driver was uninsured.  He attempted to compel Auto Owners to pay UM benefits to him by forcing it to "stand in the shoes" of the uninsured motorist (as the policy requires).  Unfortunately, he had not read all the fine print in the AutoOwners UM/UIM policy:  unlike many insurers, AutoOwners excludes from UM coverage any damages caused to the insured if he or she is a pedestrian at the time of the injury. 

Thus, although Owens purchased coverage for injuries caused by an uninsured motorist, in the fine print, this coverage was limited to damages caused to Owens while occupying a vehicle insured by AutoOwners.  If Owens enjoyed a sophisticated understanding of Michigan insurance law, he could have purchased the identical coverage from another company that does not exclude injuries suffered as a pedestrian or while in a car insured with another company.  Unfortunately, Owens, like most Michigan residents, lacked the sophisticated understanding of coverage issues enjoyed by insurers.  While most UM/UIM policies are like liability policies and cover the insured regardless of whether the insured is in the insured vehicle, the "Engler" justices on the Supreme Court have allowed insurers to write any exclusion they wish into non-mandatory UM/UIM coverage.  As a result, in many cases, the coverage actually purchased is illusory and in some cases, of little value, either because of limitations like that encountered by Owens, or because of coverage level credits and limitations or exclusions on motorcycles and uninsured vehicles.
Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
309 East Front Street
Traverse City, Michigan 49684
Toll Free: 1-800-678-1307
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