HKPC Wins Wrongful Death Rental Car Exclusion Insurance Coverage Dispute In The Michigan Court Of Appeals
In Farm Bureau v GMAC, Farm Bureau filed a declaratory judgment action asserting no coverage in an underlying wrongful death case due to its insured not having proper permission from the owner of the vehicle. The Farm Bureau insured was driving a vehicle that had been rented by another relative so that the family could go down south for a funeral. During the trip, the family member that signed the rental agreement became ill and the Farm Bureau insured took over driving the rental vehicle with permission from the renter. While driving, he had a heart attack and the vehicle rolled over. Farm Bureau filed a declaratory action denying coverage while asserting reliance on the car rental agreement indicating there was no permissive use to any person not authorized as a driver under the rental agreement. The trial court granted summary disposition in favor of Farm Bureau relying upon an unpublished case where different insurance policy language was at issue. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the Farm Bureau exclusion was ambiguous and not enforceable, thereby effectively saving our client its policy limits.