Auto insurers know that the list of potential reasons for a claim is lengthy and varies from state to state. A ruling by the Michigan Supreme Court could soon make that claims list longer nationwide. If a person is injured in a car accident, they may be able to seek recovery through an insurance claim, but what if a person is injured simply while reaching into their vehicle?
The facts of the case
According to Claims Journal, in September 2012, a Michigan man tore his calf muscle as he reached into his truck to grab his belongings. He attempted to file a claim with his insurer under Michigan's no-fault insurance laws. The insurer took issue with the claim since the vehicle was parked, but the insured said he was using the vehicle for "transportation purposes" at the time of his injury.
The Michigan Supreme Court passed the ruling of the case onto a jury, which means the final outcome of the case is still to be determined.
What does this mean for insurers in Colorado?
Unlike Michigan, Colorado uses a tort system to determine fault in an auto insurance claim. Would the insured meet the threshold for coverage in our state? Although coverage varies from state to state, existing case law can play a critical role in a judge's legal opinion when unusual scenarios arise, such as the one described above.
The insurer in the Michigan case warned that a ruling in favor of the insured could also result in coverage for non-operating injuries such as a strained back while lifting items out of the vehicle, according to Claims Journal.
Policy language protections
How does policy language differ in states that have no-fault laws compared to states that use a tort system? Time and time again, the outcome of a case centers on s policy. According to the Insurance Information Institute, Michigan is one of just 12 states that use no-fault insurance laws.
How the jury will rule on the Michigan case is yet to be decided. Neither the law nor an insurance policy can predict every scenario, but clear, unambiguous language may help to make the legal process easier for insurers.