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A Better Partnership
March 31, 2016

COA – Because Plaintiff’s uninsured vehicle was not being operated at time of accident, insurer for State assigned claims plan must pay for PIP benefits as insurer of last priority

In Shinn v. State of Michigan Secretary of State Assigned Claims Facility, No. 324227, the Michigan Court of Appeals held that security on plaintiff’s vehicle was not required at the time of an accident, under MCL 500.3101(1), because the vehicle had just been repaired and was parked at the time of the accident.  In light of this finding, the Court further held that because there was no operator of plaintiff’s vehicle, the insurer of the vehicle that struck plaintiff’s vehicle was not the insurer under MCL 500.3114(4)(b); and therefore, the insurer of the State assigned claims plan was the insurer of last priority.
 
Plaintiff Kelli Shinn was sitting in the passenger seat of her vehicle, partially inside and outside of the vehicle, when Robert Daniels drove into the rear of her vehicle.  At the time, Shinn’s vehicle was uninsured, not being operated due to previous repairs and was parked in front of her house.  Shinn was injured and sought personal injury protection (“PIP”) benefits from Daniels’ insurer, American Country Insurance Company (“ACIC”), and the insurer assigned to her claim by the Michigan Assigned Claims Facility, Farmers Insurance Exchange (“Farmers”).  The trial court granted summary disposition to both ACIC and Farmers.  Shinn appealed.
 
On appeal, the Court of Appeals had to determine whether Shinn was entitled to PIP benefits from either insurer.  First, the Court held that Shinn was not required to maintain security on her vehicle at the time of the accident because it was not being “driven or moved on a highway,” as required under MCL 500.3101(1); therefore, PIP benefits should not have been denied to Shinn under MCL 500.3113(b) and MCL 500.3101(1).  Next, the Court looked to MCL 500.3114 to determine the priority of insurer responsibility for Shinn’s PIP benefits.  All parties agreed that Shinn was an occupant of her vehicle and because of this MCL 500.3114(4)(b) did not apply.  In addition, ACIC was the insurer of Daniels’ vehicle, not the insurer of the owner or registrant of Shinn’s vehicle, thus ACIC was not the insurer under MCL 500.3114(4)(a).  Accordingly, the Court affirmed the trial court’s grant of summary disposition in favor of ACIC.  The Court, however, reversed the trial court’s grant of summary disposition in favor of Farmers and held that, as the insurer for the assigned claims plan, it was the insurer of last priority under MCL 500.3114.  The Court remanded the case to the trial court for further proceedings. 

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