Court publishes decision denying family survivor's benefits because they were named as drivers in policy, but not listed as "Named Insureds."
William Stone's wife was killed in a car wreck. They and their Ford Taurus were insured with Auto-Owners Insurance Company, on a policy purchased by William's in-laws. The Stones were identified as insured drivers since 2008. The Taurus was added in 2010. When Stone's wife died, he sought to collect No Fault PIP benefits, consisting of three years' wage loss and three years' replacement services expenses of $20.00 per day.
Auto-Owners argued that he could not collect survivor's benefits because he and his wife, although listed in the policy as drivers, were not listed as "Named Insureds." The trial judge scoffed at this idea and denied Auto-Owners summary disposition. The insurer appealed the judge's holding and this week, the Court of Appeals decided its decision granting summary disposition to Auto-Owners should be published as a precedent for other cases.
The panel of very conservative judges, including Henry Saad and Kirsten Kelly, ruled that despite adding the Stones' car to the Auto-Owners' policy, despite listing the Stones as drivers in the policy, and despite paying the increased premiums, the Stones were not entitled to the PIP No Fault benefits their family had paid for. The insurance-friendly judges ruled that to grant PIP benefits would violate the "clear" language of the policy (language which apparently several judges did not understand until last month), and that the insured family had no reasonable expectation that the people listed as drivers on the policy would be covered for PIP benefits.
The language of the opinion, which was dated August 5, 2014, is quoted in an earlier post dated September 12, 2014.