Author(s): Paul E. Tower

INTENTIONAL ACT EXCLUSION APPLIES TO UM CLAIMS

In Gray v MEEMIC Ins. Co., No. 280392, the Court of Appeals in an unpublished opinion reaffirmed the principle that UM/UIM benefits are determined by the terms of the contract, not the terms of the No-Fault Act.

Kimberly Gray brought a UM claim against MEEMIC as a result of an accident when an unknown female in a blue truck approached her from behind at a high rate of speed, directing profanity and hand gestures at her. Ms. Gray testified that she believed that the “hit and run” driver was acting intentionally and that she hit her on purpose. With this testimony, MEEMIC moved for summary disposition on the basis that the policy precluded benefits for bodily injury “which is caused intentionally by or at the direction of another person[.]” The trial court denied the motion. However, the Court of Appeals reversed.

The Court of Appeals noted that because uninsured motorist coverage is optional, “the rights and limitations of such coverage are purely contractual and are governed without reference to the No-Fault Act.” [citing Rory v Continental Ins. Co., 473 Mich 457, 465-466 (2005)] The Court of Appeals then used the Random House Dictionary to define the word “intentional.” The dictionary defined it as “done with intention or on purpose.” Because the policy language was clear and unambiguous, the Court of Appeals determined the trial court should have barred coverage.

The analysis for determining whether an act is intentional for purposes of a claim for No-Fault benefits is different. Under MCLA § 500.3105(4), “Bodily injury is accidental as to a person claiming personal protection insurance benefits unless suffered intentionally by the injured person or caused intentionally by the claimant.” This exclusion applies only to the assailant, not to the victim. See Univ Rehab v Farm Bureau, 297 Mich App 691 (2008).