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Common Situation 9 – Are Roommates Covered By Uninsured / Underinsured Coverage?

Common Insurance Situations in Mass Auto Accidents

Common Situation 9
A bicyclist is a student living with several roommates, all of whom own cars with uninsured motorist coverage under Part 3. The bicyclist is injured by a driver whose identity is not known. Can the bicyclist get uninsured motorist coverage from any of the roommates’ vehicles?

Answer to Common Situation 9
No. Uninsured motorist coverage requires that the person seeking it be related by blood, marriage, or adoption. Personal Injury Protection benefits coverage (PIP) does not have that limitation as it covers anyone living in the household. In contrast, uninsured and underinsured coverages require that the recipient be “anyone living in your household who is related to you by blood, marriage, or adoption.” This fact scenario was covered in the very recent case of Kanamaru v. Holyoke Mutual Insurance Co., 72 Mass. App. Ct. 396 (2008) denying uninsured benefits. Actually, it was even more unfortunate because the plaintiff in that case went to the extent of having himself listed as an operator of his roommate’s vehicle and yet the Appeals Court still ruled that he could not recover.

Again, Massachusetts insurance law is exceedingly complicated because if the plaintiff were a passenger in any of the roommates’ cars, all agree that he could have access to uninsured motorist coverage. However, because he was a bicyclist, and therefore deemed a pedestrian, under Massachusetts insurance law, he could not obtain these benefits.

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