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Stepchildren and PIP in Michigan

Steven Matz
January 13, 2021 | Car Accident

“If my spouse dies, will my children who are his/her stepchildren still be covered by his/her no-fault policy?”

A recent case has answered “yes” to that question under certain circumstances. If the child still lives in the home where the deceased parent and stepparent also lived on the date of the accident, no-fault coverage should still apply to the child. This assumes that the child did not have no-fault coverage of his or her own on the date of the accident, because the child’s own policy would then pay the no-fault benefits.

Will My Child Who Are His/ Her Stepchild Still Be Covered By His/ Her No-Fault Policy?

But the Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled that a stepparent is “related by marriage” to a stepchild (for purposes of this issue, not necessarily under all circumstances) , and that no-fault coverage applies to all family members living in a household who are related either by blood or by marriage. This is a departure from many other states, where stepparents aren’t regarded as being “related by marriage” to the spouse’s children, where death is ruled to end all relationships created by marriage, or by both of these policies.

This issue may arise in a case, for example, in which a parent dies in a crash, and whose children/passengers are injured. If she was driving a vehicle that was owned and insured by her spouse, who is not the father of the children, his auto policy will still provide no-fault benefits to the children for such losses as medical coverage.

Please remember that this is current Michigan law, and could change according to further rulings or legislation at any time. As with any coverage issue, be sure to consult an attorney who works in the automobile negligence field to make sure that the particular facts of your case fit the ruling of the court.

Who Pays PIP for Children of Divorced Parents?

“My ex-spouse and I have shared custody of our children. Whose car insurance covers them if they are in an accident and need medical care?”

The answer to this depends partly upon which parent the child was staying with when the accident happened, and partly on the custody order from the divorce. If one parent has sole legal and physical custody, that parent’s no-fault covers the child’s auto-related expenses (of course, any health insurance the child has also may be involved).

If the parents share legal and physical custody, the insurance comes from whichever parent the child was living with on the day of the accident. The exception is where one parent has primary physical custody. In that case, the insurance comes from the parent with primary custody, no matter where the child was staying on the date of the accident.

If the child happens to be staying with a parent who does not have car insurance and who is not the parent with primary custody, and the child is in someone else’s car when there is an accident, the car insurance will come from sources in this order: the owner of the vehicle the child was in, the driver of that vehicle (if different from the owner), or the Assigned Claims Plan.

Source: 494 Mich 475 (2013)

Read more about who pays for PIP for divorced children here.

Source: Patmon v Nationwide Mutual (unpublished 2014)

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Written By Steven Matz

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Steven J. Matz is a founding shareholder of Matz Injury Law. The firm’s concentration is on personal injury litigation, with an emphasis on traumatic brain injury.

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