Last week, our insurance attorneys shared our own picks for the best auto insurance companies. Today, our attorneys give you our opinion on the “7 worst insurance companies.”
This list is based upon our own personal experiences as attorneys, who see first-hand how these insurance companies treat the people who become our clients. These are not the “feel good” commercials, but the real stories of real clients who’ve been mistreated when they’re at their most vulnerable — after a car accident and when they most need the insurance benefits they’re entitled.
Many of these auto insurance companies make a lot of money by not paying on legitimate claims. We see it happen every day, representing the people who are forced to see a lawyer and forced to sue their own insurance companies for what they paid for and what they were promised.
We have one additional unique advantage in coming up with this list of the worst insurance companies: with 18 lawyers who only handle No-Fault insurance litigation stemming from car and truck accidents throughout Michigan, we’ve sued nearly every auto insurance company in this state. It gives us a view and perspective on how these companies handle claims that the public could never have.
Our insurance attorneys evaluated the top 10 largest auto insurance companies in the state, and a number of other large auto insurers. Below are our own personal picks for the worst auto insurance companies of the bunch.
You can find more information about each of these insurance companies in our free, downloadable book:
1. State Farm Insurance
State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company is the No. 1 provider of auto insurance in the U.S. State Farm profits increased by nearly 100% from $570 million in 2009 to nearly $1.1 billion in 2011, according to its Annual Reports. We don’t begrudge State Farm for making a profit. But we do have a problem with how they’re making this profit. Our lawyers can say that we see State Farm as the most aggressive insurance company in Michigan in accusing its own paying customers of insurance fraud, in putting their own customers under “investigation” as a way to avoid paying out on legitimate claims, and in fighting payments of No Fault benefits.
2. Allstate Insurance Company
Allstate has no problem growing its bottom line, but what we don’t like is how they do it. Documents made public in 2008 describe a two-pronged strategy:
- Allstate evaluates claims with a computer program called Colossus, which is designed to reduce auto accident claims payouts by discouraging honest people with legitimate injuries from seeking legal help.
- Then it pressures injured auto accident victims to accept and agree to very low, “low-ball” settlement offers.
Also, consumer complaints have increased against both Allstate and in recent years, Allstate has been one of the top 5 most-complained-about auto insurers among the auto insurance companies in Michigan.
3. Secura Insurance – Putting a low price on human life
Secura Insurance makes our list this year of worst auto insurance companies because of the way it defended a case I had with them last year. It is unfortunately representative of how Secura defends many of its cases.
My client was an innocent 83-year-old man who was hit and killed by a commercial truck. He was killed while legally crossing the street on his bicycle. In Shekoski v. Allied Excavation, Inc., et al., Secura Insurance took the position that this elderly man’s life was not worth more than $250,000, which is all they offered to settle for his wrongful death.
They offered this low-ball amount to his estate (his 10 children and 38 grandchildren), despite Mr. Shekoski’s horrible suffering and a terrible driving record of its own truck driver, who despite repeated speeding violations was still behind the wheel.
4. Dairyland Insurance
Dairyland sent a release to its own injured customers extinguishing all of their legal rights – past, present and future - SEVEN days after the car accident. Seven days. I’ve been an insurance lawyer for nearly 20 years, and I’ve never seen an auto insurance company do this to anyone. Until Dairyland pulled this brazen stunt, I wouldn’t even have thought it possible.
Unfortunately, the reason they did it makes sense, and it’s why I expect to see more of this as an insurance attorney. With no bad faith laws, no consumer protection laws, and no punitive damages in Michigan, the question for any insurance company tempted to pull such a stunt is, “Why not?” There’s no deterrent as there are in so many states. And it worked on Dairyland’s behalf. The accident victim signed this release, and lost all future No Fault insurance benefits and claims.
5. Farm Bureau Insurance – My Repeat Skunk Award
There is so much to say about Farm Bureau. They sell coverage like Underinsured Motorist Coverage, yet they will do almost anything to avoid paying their own customers when they then are seriously hurt in a car accident and make a claim.
And then there is how they defend cases in court. We’d like to think an attorney is not supposed to stand up and intentionally mislead a jury. But Farm Bureau lawyers often do this as part of their litigation strategy in serious auto accident injury cases. In one case Michigan Auto Law had with them, Farm Bureau insured the vehicle of an 18-year-old from Adrian, Michigan, who slammed into a man’s SUV while she was illegally speeding on the dirt shoulder of the road.
The accident victim in the SUV had to be transported to the hospital via helicopter and the teen driver admitted to reckless driving. But instead of making any meaningful attempts to settle the case (and protect its own paying customer), Farm Bureau’s litigation strategy was to hang its customer, the teen driver, out to dry.
Farm Bureau’s entire trial strategy was to try to suggest, imply, and make the jury feel bad that this at-fault teen driver who caused this terrible crash would be financially ruined, instead of just settling the case by paying out the insurance policy limit. Remember, in Michigan (as in many states) juries are not told the parties have insurance that will pay the jury’s verdict.
6. Progressive Insurance – Selling worthless coverage
What’s buried in the fine print? How about completely worthless auto insurance that cost you a lot of money from Progressive? This tough lesson was exemplified by our case, Carducci v. Progressive et. al. Our client was struck head-on at age 28. She had 13 surgeries, spent nearly a month in the hospital, and suffered a traumatic brain injury. The driver who hit our client didn’t have auto insurance. Our client had purchased Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM) from Progressive Insurance Company, which is supposed to protect someone if they’re seriously injured in a car accident by an uninsured driver.
Too bad Progressive’s UM coverage that my client had purchased turned out to be worthless because of what the insurance company buried in the fine print of its policy. The fine print allowed Progressive to “set-off” the medical bills from her workers’ compensation to avoid paying her for pain and suffering from the UM, which was insurance coverage she paid an additional premium for to protect herself from this type of event.
Also, in recent years, consumer complaints have increased against Progressive Michigan Insurance Company and Progressive Michigan has been one of the top 5 most-complained-about insurers among the auto insurance companies in Michigan.
7. Citizens Insurance Company and Auto Club Insurance Association – Dishonorable mentions
In recent years, Auto Club Insurance Association and Citizens Insurance Company of America has been two of the top 5 most-complained-about auto insurers among the auto insurance companies doing business in Michigan. That’s a shame. For the most part, AAA has, until recent years, been one of the better insurance companies and in many ways, such as the release of claims, the most honorable in not playing games and avoiding the hyper-technical traps that so many other insurance companies now put in their standard releases (hat tip to Dan Seifert here).
Consumer complaints against Citizens Insurance Company of the Midwest have increased by more than 100% between 2010 and 2011; and Citizens is near the bottom of the list for paying out the smallest percentage of its premium dollars in claims when its customers are in auto accidents.
How our list of the worst auto insurance companies was created
Yes, a lot of this is our opinion. These picks for the worst insurance companies are based on the opinions from real experience and real cases of our Michigan Auto Law attorneys; attorneys who deal with these insurance companies every single day and have dealt with every company in the state. We see first-hand how these companies treat people and conduct their business. How auto insurance companies like Allstate and State Farm really treat people, as opposed to what the TV commercials tout about them, are sadly often quite different.
But we’ve also backed up our own opinions based upon our experiences with hard quantitative data.
Our goal is to give you the information you need to steer clear of the auto insurance companies that do not have your best interests in mind, so you can pick the one that will best protect you and your family.
Have a story you want to share about one of these companies or a question? Leave it here on our forum on the Best and Worst Auto Insurance Companies.