Is a child who has left home and perhaps returned off and on and left again – covered by your Auto No Fault insurance if injured in a car crash?
Yesterday I wrote about the issue of whether a college student is covered by Michigan No Fault insurance if injured while away at school.
Today, I’m covering insurance issues related to millennials:
Is your child in the nest? Has he left the nest? Has he returned to the nest? Rinse and repeat again?
This covers a few million children who reached young adulthood around the year 2000 and are part of the generation known as millennials, especially coming off the “Great Recession.”
But how does this square with Michigan’s law on domicile and whether your child will be protected if he is seriously injured in a car accident, or if he causes a serious crash that injures another? Will your millennial child be covered by your auto No Fault insurance?
This is important, as under Michigan’s No Fault law, No Fault auto insurance pays for all crash-related reasonably necessary medical expenses for life – and for lost wages for up to three years. If your child is seriously injured, our law will also pay for attendant care (nursing care).
All of this then begs begs the question for today’s blog: When are millennials – I believe sometimes referred to as “young adults in transition” – covered by their parents’ No Fault auto insurance?
Here’s how I answer.
Please note that my answer is based on the following assumptions that likely fit many if not most young adults that qualify today as millennials:
- Your millennial doesn’t have her or his own auto insurance; and
- Your millennial is not married to someone who does.
A millennial child is covered and protected by her or his parents’ No Fault policy if she qualifies as a “resident relative” of her or his parents, i.e., a “relative … domiciled in the same household …” (See MCL 500.3114(1))
To determine whether a millennial child – who has left her or his parents’ home and/or, perhaps, returned and left again – is, nevertheless, still “domiciled” with her or his parents for No Fault purposes, Michigan courts have looked at the following factors:
- “[T]he subjective or declared intent of the claimant to remain indefinitely in the insured’s household.”
- “[T]he formality of the relationship between the claimant and the members of the household.”
- “[W]hether the place where the claimant lives is in the same house, within the same cartilage or upon the same premises as the insured.”
- The “existence of another place of lodging for the person alleging domicile.”
- “[W]hether the child continues to use the parents’ home as the child’s mailing address.”
- “[W]hether the child maintains some possessions with the parents.”
- “[W]hether the child uses the parents’ address on the child’s driver’s license or other documents.”
- “[W]hether a room is maintained for the child at the parents’ home.”
- “[W]hether the child is dependent upon the parents for support.” (See Workman v. DAIIE, 404 Mich 477, 496-497; 274 NW2d 373 (1979); Fowler v. Auto Club Ins Ass’n, 254 Mich App 362, 363; 656 NW2d 856 (2002))
- The following are examples of when a millennial child has been deemed to be “domiciled” with her or his parents:
- The millennial child “in his early 20’s” “used his father’s address as his mailing address.” He “maintained some possessions in his father’s house” and “used his father’s address on [his] driver’s license and other documents.” Additionally, “an area in the basement of the house was available for [his] use, which area [his father] described as ‘pretty much an apartment.’” “[H]is father’s house remained the one constant in his life and his father’s house is where [he] returned to repeatedly through his young troubled life.” (Rossman v. Titan Insurance Company, Michigan Court of Appeals, May 15, 2012, #302720)
- An 18-year-old high school student who was living with another family (and whom the court arguably had in mind when it wrote that “[y]oung adults in transition from parental homes to independent living arrangements pose special problems in determining domicile”) nevertheless was “domiciled” in his mother’s Frankenmuth home based: his intent “to return to Frankenmuth after high school”; his lack of “any formal relationship tethering him to the [other] home”; his maintenance of “a Frankenmuth mailing address”: “deliberately and repeatedly identify[ying] Frankenmuth as his residence”; “[keeping] most of his possessions in Frankenmuth, and remain[ing] dependent on his mother for essential aspects of support.” (Lucio v. Great Lakes Casualty Insurance Company, Michigan Court of Appeals, December 29, 2011, #299786)
- The “young adult in transition” was allowed to “freely use her parents’ home at will,” which provided “no-cost housing” and paid-for “utilities.” She “resided in the same house and on the same premises with her parents during the periods she was staying with them.” She “had only limited access to ‘another place of lodging.’” She “chose to have her address changed to her parents’ home and received her mail there.” She “maintained some of her personal possessions [including her cat] at her parents’ home.” She “listed her parents’ address as her own on bank, rental, and employment documents. She also identified her parents’ address as her own to the police at the scene of her accident.” (Gunther v. AAA/ACIA, Michigan Court of Appeals, October 27, 2009, #284580)