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Auto-Owners is not the "insurer" of resident relative of Named Insured while driving uninsured vehicle

Denis Prishtina was hurt when he was struck by another vehicle while operating his motorcycle on I-96.  Under Michigan's No Fault insurance scheme, motorcyclists who buy liability insurance don't buy insurance for PIP benefits:  if they have purchased liability coverage, they automatically are covered for PIP benefits if they are hurt in a wreck involving a car.  There is a priority schedule of who must pay the cyclist's medical, starting with the "insurer" of the owner and driver of the car.

The man who struck Prishtina was uninsured and driving an uninsured motor vehicle.  Nevertheless, he lived with his brother, who was insured, so under the terms of the brother's Auto Owners' policy, Auto Owners was the driver's "insurer" for some purposes.    He was listed as an insured with respect to PIP benefits and liability coverage, but the policy would not extend liability coverage to the driver's uninsured car, and it would not allow him to collect PIP benefits if he were hurt while driving his uninsured car. 

Acknowledging that Auto Owners was the driver's "insurer," the trial judge ruled that it was first in priority to pay the motorcyclist's PIP benefits (medical and partial wages and expenses for three years).  The Court of Appeals reviewed this decision and came to the opposite conclusion:  it held that for purposes of payment of the biker's PIP benefits, Auto-Owners was not the "insurer" of the vehicle driver while driving an uninsured car.


Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
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Traverse City, Michigan 49684
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