More over-reaching by Bristol West Insurance Company
Bristol West has been a recent entry in the Michigan competition to see who can most aggressively abuse Michigan consumers. While no one can really compete with Allstate in this competition, Bristol West appears to be doing its best. This week it over-reached.
The Michigan Court of Appeals this week slapped down Bristol West's over-reaching attempt to deny insurance benefits to the injured plaintiff and his health care providers. The plaintiff was using a car owned by his brother and properly insured. Bristol West argued that because he had used the car one or two days per week for more than 30 days, he should be considered the "owner" of the car, and since he had not purchased insurance, it should be considered an "uninsured vehicle". The Court noted that the car was legally and properly insured by the brother through the Auto Club, and therefore the punitive language of the no fault act would not apply as the plaintiff was simply not "operating an uninsured vehicle owned by him."
The trial court had entered judgment in Plaintiff's favor for more than $65,000.00 , which Bristol West was obligated to pay under priority rules of the no fault act. The Court of Appeals said the trial court had gotten it right----the straightforward construction of the statutory language required the lower court's conclusion. Recognizing Bristol West's over-reaching claim would constitute inappropriate judicial activism. Sadly, that very thing may happen in Michigan's Supreme Court, if we judge by recent history.