Court affirms holding that "full coverage" on vehicle did not include Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Shelly Wiley suffered a neck fracture and "other serious injuries" in a collision caused by Megan Sue Osman. Osman had purchased very limited liability coverage and Wiley and her husband filed a lawsuit against their own insurer, USAA, arguing that it should have provided Underinsured Motorist (UIM) Coverage to supplement Osman's limited liability. UIM is a cheap, optional coverage sold by no fault insurers that steps into the shoes of at-fault liability carriers when their insurance coverage is inadequate for the damages that the at-fault has caused. Attorneys and ood agents strongly recommend that Michigan motorists purchase UIM coverage, since the minimum liability coverage has never been increased from the 1974 level of $20,000.00. The latter amount is relatively absurd when one considers that injured motorists cannot even sue, in most cases, unless the can prove that they have suffered a "serious impairment of bodily function" or death.Wiley and her husband argued that they understood they were buying "full coverage" with all the options. They received a notice from USAA addressing their "selection/rejection" of UIM coverage and assumed that, since they hadn't "rejected" UIM, they must have it. They also argued that their relationship with the agent was a "special relastionship" under the law, creating a duty on the part of the USAA agent to write them UIM coverage.
The trial court and the Court of Appeals rejected the Wileys' claim on all counts. It noted that they could not recall requesting "full coverage," that they could not point to a misrepresentation by the USAA agent, and the fact that if the policy language was read carefully, it clearly omitted UIM coverage on the Declaration Page. Under these circumstances, the USAA agent owed no duty to recommend UIM coverage, as its sole duty--pursuant to Engler Majority analysis by the Republicans on Michigan's Supreme Court--was to USAA to sell insurance. The agents owed no duty to give the Wileys sound advice and USAA owed no UIM coverage.