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Winner of 2010 Insurance Company Skunk Award is…. Farm Bureau

No-Fault insurance lawyer warns car accident victims about Farm Bureau insurance company

Farm Bureau is at it again. I’ve written about this insurance company before. Despite their nice commercials, I personally see Farm Bureau treating their own customers the worst out of all the automobile insurance companies that I personally deal with as a lawyer representing victims of car accidents and truck accidents.

Again, the latest incident involves Farm Bureau finding new ways to avoid their obligation to their customers. Insurance companies like Farm Bureau get paid every year in insurance premiums by their customers, but as soon as their help is needed, they often look for ways to avoid meeting their legal, contractual obligations.

They just don’t do the right thing very often.

Why I do not recommend Farm Bureau

In my own experience, and in the experience of other auto accident attorneys in Michigan, it is almost impossible to get a Farm Bureau claims adjuster to give permission to accept the proffered policy limits of a wrongdoer insurance company when an injured Farm Bureau customer has underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage.

Let me explain: you, a Farm Bureau customer, gets seriously injured in a car accident in Detroit, or Lansing, or Grand Rapids. The person who hits you has a minimum insurance policy limit of $20,000. You have been paying Farm Bureau for years for a coverage called underinsured motorist coverage, or UIM. This is an additional protection that is meant to pay you the full extent of what your injuries are worth, if the value of your personal injury exceeds the amount of coverage that the person who caused your car accident has. So, the person who caused your coverage only has $20,000, and your injury is clearly worth more. That insurance company eventually tenders its $20,000 policy, so you can accept it and turn to your own additional UIM coverage with Farm Bureau.

Only you can’t.

Farm Bureau won’t let you.

Under Michigan law, a personal injury lawyer cannot accept the full offered policy limits of an auto insurance company that insures a person who has caused a car accident, without first getting the permission from your own insurance company.

So what happens when your insurance company refuses to give you permission to accept the policy limits of the person who caused your car accident?

Without receiving permission to accept tendered policy limits from a negligent driver’s auto insurance company, UIM coverage will be voided under Michigan law.

The problem with Farm Bureau is that in almost every case I’ve seen, Farm Bureau claims adjusters seem to refuse to give permission to accept tendered policy limits; essentially trying to force their own customer to sit through a trial and expend thousands of dollars, and waste everyone’s time with another insurance company that is trying to settle the case. The Farm Bureau UIM policy, that Farm Bureau’s own customers paid a lot of money for, basically becomes illusory coverage.

There is actually no downside for Farm Bureau to do this, other than breaking their promises to their own customers, that is. If the customer and his attorney accept the policy limit settlement being offered without receiving the written permission of Farm Bureau, they void the UIM coverage.

If, on the other hand, Farm Bureau forces them to try the case, they can play the odds and if a crazy, conservative 1 in a 100 jury returns a verdict of less than the policy limit, they again, don’t have to pay. Since their own client has to pay for the thousands of dollars of costs of being forced to trial, there literally is no reason for Farm Bureau to not continue to do this.

Michigan has no bad faith laws or punitive damages to prevent this type of conduct by insurance companies at this time.

How to protect yourself

There is an easy solution at this time: don’t buy Farm Bureau.

This is just one reason Farm Bureau is the winner of my 2010 Insurance Company Skunk Award. In my next blog, I will talk about another disappointing, anti-consumer thing Farm Bureau recently did to a long-time customer to again, get out of paying a valid claim they should have paid. I’ll also cover how the Farm Bureau customer ended up with nothing as a result.

- Steven M. Gursten is recognized as one of the nation’s top experts in serious car and truck accident injury cases and automobile insurance No-fault litigation. Michigan Auto Law has received the largest reported jury verdict for an automobile accident case in Michigan in seven of the past 10 years, including 2009, according to published year-end verdicts and settlements reports.

Related information:

The Dirtiest Insurance Company Trick of All

17 Mistakes that Can Kill Your Case

Three No-Fault Challenges Facing Car Accident Attorneys Today

No-Fault Lawyer Video: All About Underinsured Motorist Coverage

Michigan Auto Law is the largest law firm exclusively handling car accident, truck accident and motorcycle accident cases throughout the entire state. We have offices in Farmington Hills, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Sterling Heights to better serve you. Call for a free consultation with an auto accident attorney. We can help.

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Blog Author Steven M. Gursten
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