Insurance Law Lesson 13: Enforceability of Policy Terms

A policy is a contract (I write this a lot). In Michigan, the terms of a contract are enforced as written. This means that narrowing language in a policy will be enforced.

2 exceptions come to mind:

Some insurance must include minimum coverages by law. Car insurance is an example. If the policy is narrower than the law allows, then the legally required coverage is given.

If there is more than one reasonable interpretation of a policy term, then that term will be applied in favor of broader coverage for an insured.

Michigan law is clear that, just like other contracts, a court (or policyholder) is not allowed to read ambiguities into a policy where none really exists.

Expectations of what is covered, including those that may be based on discussions with an insurance agent, will not override the policy terms.

As explained by the Michigan Supreme Court:

“The rule of reasonable expectations clearly has no application to unambiguous contracts. That is, one’s alleged ‘reasonable expectations’ cannot supersede the clear language of a contract.” Wilkie v. Auto-Owners Ins. Co., 469 Mich. 41, 60 (2003).

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