Court decides another domicile dispute among No Fault PIP insurers, arising out of adult chld's transition from home
Jessica Peregord was badly hurt in a car accident while a passenger in her boyfriend's grandmother's car. She had no vehicle or insurance, so she claimed PIP benefits from first the insurer of the owner and then the insurer of her father's car. Both rejected her claim, so she eventually went to the Assigned Claims plan [MACF], which required Farmers Insurance to pay her benefits. Farmers then sued Allstate and the Auto Club, sensibly pointing out that one or the other of them owed the PIP benefits--depending on where Peregord was found to be "domiciled."
The young woman still had a bedroom at her father's house, but she had moved in with a family friend two months earlier. She cared for the friend's cat; paid a modest rent; changed her school mailing address; put her name on the apartment mailbox; and changed the address on her driver's license. She was "transitioning" out of the house. Allstate refused to pay her PIP benefits because it argued she still resided with her father. The Auto Club said she no longer did, and the lower court ultimately agreed with ACIA (the Auto Club) and granted summary disposition. Allstate appealed, arguing that the issue of domicile was a genuine issue of material fact that should have been presented to the jury. The higher court disagreed. Given her testimonial intent to stay with her friend indefinitely and the concrete steps she took to effect that intent, the Court ruled that her domicile had indeed changed from her father's home.