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Volume XXVI, No. 17, August 1, 2014    

From the Law Offices of Garan Lucow Miller, P.C.

From the Editor: Sarah Nadeau 

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Trucking – “Business Use” Exclusion NOT Applicable

CONTRIBUTOR – L. LADD CULBERTSON

Reversing a previous published opinion by the Michigan Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court has held that the “Business Use” Exclusion on a trucking auto policy did not serve to exclude coverage under a Non-Trucking Use or “bobtail” policy where the semi-tractor was being driven to the trucking company’s yard without a trailer or cargo.

In Hunt v Drielick, Empire Fire and Marine Insurance Company issued a Non-Trucking Use, or Bobtail, insurance policy to Drielick Trucking. The policy contained a Business Use Exclusion which stated that Empire was not liable for “bodily injury or property damage while a covered auto is used to carry property in any business or while a covered auto is used in the business of anyone to whom the auto is leased or rented.”

On the day of the accident, the truck was being driven by Corey Drielick when he was involved in a fatal accident with another vehicle. Drielick was on his way to the trucking company’s yard, but he was not transporting any property at the time. He had not yet picked up a trailer, was not under orders to be at the yard at any particular time, was free to complete personal business before arriving at the yard, and there was an oral agreement that Drielick would not be paid until after the tractor was coupled with the trailer.

The Court of Appeals concluded that the first part of the “Business Use” Exclusion applied to precluded coverage under Empire’s policy. That portion stated that coverage did not apply when bodily injury or property damage occurred “while a covered auto is used to carry property in any business.” The Court of Appeals found that, the mere fact that the truck was not yet hauling cargo did not mean that it was not being used in the trucking company’s business.

The Michigan Supreme Court disagreed, holding that coverage under the first clause is precluded only during the time that a semi-tractor is physically attached to property and the property is carried in a business. Where it was undisputed that, at the time of the accident the semi-tractor was driven without attached property, and where the Supreme Court had concluded that the Exclusion’s first clause precludes coverage as long as the covered vehicle is carrying attached property in any business, the Supreme Court held that the first clause does not preclude coverage in this case.

The Michigan Supreme Court then went further, addressing the second half of the “Business Use” Exclusion, which excluded coverage, “while a covered auto is used in the business of anyone to whom the auto is leased or rented.” The Supreme Court noted that this portion of the Exclusion would preclude coverage if the vehicle was being “used in the business” of a party to whom the vehicle was being “leased or rented”. However, the Court remanded the case to the trial court finding the record was unclear regarding whether the parties had entered into a leasing agreement. The Court noted that, while there may have been an oral arrangement between the trucking company and Drielick, whether this agreement constituted a “lease” for purposes of the policy exclusion was a factual determination which needed to be addressed further by the trial court.

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REGISTER NOW!  TROY BREAKFAST SEMINAR

Garan Lucow Miller P.C., is hosting its annual Troy Breakfast Seminar on Thursday, September 4, 2014 at the Troy Marriott with Presentations from Michigan Legal Experts on the following topics:

• Strategies for Handling Vehicles & Home Modification Claims
• No-Fault Update
• Affordable Care Act and its Interaction with PIP
• Benefits of Using Appellate Counsel during Pretrial and Trial Proceedings
• Depositions of Claim Staff: Why Would You? How Could You?
• Calculating Wage Loss and Detecting Fraud

To register, contact Eileen Carty at ecarty@garanlucow.com

Watch further Editions of LawFax for a full Agenda.

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SAVE THE DATE | BUCKEYE SEMINAR


THE BUCKEYE SEMINAR WILL TAKE PLACE ON THURSDAY, OCTOBER 23RD, 2014, AT THE GREATER COLUMBUS CONVENTION CENTER. WATCH LAW FAX FOR REGISTRATION AND FURTHER DETAILS.

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REGISTER NOW! |  Basics of Michigan Automobile No-Fault Insurance Law Course

 

Garan Lucow Miller, P.C. is pleased again to offer this in-depth, educational course in the fall of 2014. It will be taught each Tuesday evening, beginning September 30, 2014 and running through November 25, 2014.

The course will be held at the Crowne Plaza, 925 S. Creyts Road, Lansing MI from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm.

This is an ideal course for new claims professionals or anyone else seeking a comprehensive refresher of the Michigan No-Fault Act. It is being taught by several experts in the area of No-Fault law from across the state.

The cost of the 9 week course is $350.00 per person, with a discount of $50.00 per person for more than 2 registrants from the same company.

To register for this comprehensive course, please contact Eileen Carty at ecarty@garanlucow.com or call 800-875-7600.

Click here for the course curriculum.