No-Fault insurance lawyer lists the auto insurance companies who may not treat you right after a car accident
As insurance lawyers helping only people injured in car accidents and truck accidents, we deal with insurance companies every day. And if there is one thing we see daily, it’s this: auto insurance companies make a lot of money by not paying on legitimate claims.
In fact, accident victims have been limping away from hundreds of millions of dollars in valid and deserving claims that insurance companies are required to pay. Many of these auto insurance companies believe you won’t wait, you won’t hire a lawyer to file a lawsuit, and you will eventually become so fed up that you’ll take a low-ball settlement offer. This is called the “3 Ds” strategy: delay, deny and defend. Insurance companies will delay your claim, deny you were hurt and defend aggressively.
Here’s our 2011 list of the worst insurance companies (For the most recent list, check out our post on our attorney picks for the Worst Auto Insurance Companies in 2013). Our lawyers put together this list based on what we see everyday from Michigan auto insurance companies. In our own experience representing people suing these insurance companies for No-Fault benefits, or helping people injured in car accidents where these insurance companies are on the other side, these are our personal picks as the worst of the bunch.
Here’s how my Worst Auto Insurance Company list was created.
I’ve never seen any insurance company send a release to its own injured customers extinguishing all of their legal rights, past, present and future, just SEVEN days after a crash – until Dairyland Insurance did just this. The accident victim signed this release, and lost all future No-Fault insurance benefits and claims.
A lawyer is not supposed to stand up in court and intentionally mislead a jury. But Farm Bureau is doing this in serious auto accident injury cases every day. In our case, Farm Bureau insured the vehicle of an 18-year-old from Adrian, who slammed into a man’s SUV while she was speeding on the dirt shoulder. The car accident victim had to be transported to the hospital by helicopter. But instead of taking responsibility or making any meaningful attempts to settle this case (that its customer caused), Farm Bureau’s defense strategy was to hang its customer out to dry, hoping the jury would believe the at-fault teenage driver was the one who would be paying up – instead of Farm Bureau. Because of this case, and anti-consumer changes that Farm Bureau has in its own underinsured motorist coverage (UIM) policy, Farm Bureau wins my Skunk Award in 2011.
(TIE) 3. & 4. Allstate Insurance Company and State Farm Insurance – Winner, my Repeat Offender Award
Allstate didn’t seem to have any problem growing its bottom line, even in this tough Michigan economy. The insurance giant posted an almost 10 percent increase in national profits compared to 2008. It pulled in national earnings of $518 million, and generated a nearly 23 percent boost in total revenues (1). What our insurance attorneys don’t like is how Allstate pulled it off: Documents made public in 2008 describe a two-pronged strategy for how Allstate cut payments to its own customers as a way to boost profits. First, the company evaluates claims with a computer program designed to reduce claims payouts. Second, Allstate pushes injury victims to accept quick but very low settlements. (1 – How a get-tough policy lifted Allstate’s profits – Herald Tribune, April 6, 2008)
State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company is the No. 1 provider of auto insurance in the country. In 2009, State Farm managed a $777 million profit nationally (2). We don’t begrudge State Farm for making a profit. But our No-Fault insurance attorneys do blame State Farm for overcharging Michigan drivers, who pay the second-highest premiums in the country. Our insurance lawyers can also say from our own first-hand experience that State Farm is now the most aggressive in accusing its own customers of fraud, putting them under “investigation,” and fighting payment of their No-Fault insurance benefits. (2 – “Where Auto Insurance Is Most Expensive” – The New York Times, April 14, 2010)
What is buried in the fine print? How about completely worthless auto insurance that you paid a lot of money for. This tough lesson was exemplified by my case, Carducci v. Progressive et. al. My client, Amie Carducci, of Clinton Township, was struck nearly head-on at age 28. She had 13 surgeries, spent almost a month in the hospital, and suffered a traumatic brain injury. The driver who hit Amie did not have auto insurance. But Amie had purchased uninsured motorist coverage (UM) from Progressive, which is supposed to protect someone if she’s injured in a car accident by an uninsured driver. Too bad Progressive’s uninsured motorist coverage was worthless and completely failed to protect Amie because of what the Progressive buries in its policy.
Want an example of outrageous and deplorable conduct by an insurance company? In Abay v. Daimler Chrysler Insurance Company, et al., Mira Abay, a kind mother of three daughters was killed when a drunken, cocaine-using defendant crashed into her vehicle. Ms. Abay’s estate sued the defendant and won a $3.5 million jury verdict. But Abay’s family was unable to collect anything because Daimler Chrysler Insurance Company’s No-Fault insurance coverage STOPS its own customers from collecting if they are seriously injured, or killed, in car accidents!
Do you have your own insurance company horror story?
Want to add to my list of the worst insurance companies in Michigan? Our insurance lawyers would like to hear how your auto insurance company is treating you. If you have a story similar to any of these, or if you’d like to share your feelings, feel free to make a comment below or on our Facebook page.
If you need more information, visit our Michigan No-Fault Insurance Resource Center. It has information on No-Fault benefits, the No-Fault Act, Michigan mini-tort, Social Security Disability and additional coverage that can protect you if you’re ever injured in an auto accident.
You’re also welcome to call one of our insurance attorneys at (800) 777-0028. There’s no cost or obligation, and we can answer all of your questions about your car accident or your No-Fault insurance policy.
- Steven M. Gursten is head of Michigan Auto Law. He is recognized as one of the nation’s top attorneys handling serious auto injury cases and No-Fault litigation. Michigan Auto Law has received the highest jury verdict for a car accident or truck accident in 2008, 2009 and 2010, according to Michigan Lawyers Weekly.
Additional resources to protect yourself:
Michigan Auto Law is the largest law firm exclusively handling car accident, truck accident, motorcycle accident and No-Fault insurance lawsuits throughout the entire state. We have offices in Farmington Hills, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Sterling Heights to better serve you. Call (800) 777-0028 for a free consultation with an auto insurance attorney. We are here to help you.