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Farm Bureau wins our attorneys’ award for meanest auto insurance company

Too many adjusters that are insensitive and mean-spirited toward auto accident victims puts Farm Bureau on our list of the worst car insurance companies

Farm Bureau worst insurance company

One of the main reasons Farm Bureau has made our attorneys’ list of the “Worst Auto Insurance Companies” for 2015 is because we find their adjusters to be particularly insensitive and mean-spirited.
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The following real case is a good example of what we see from Farm Bureau.

Farm Bureau shamefully targeted a car accident victim in a wheelchair with a nonsensical and absurd legal reason for denying his clearly valid claim.

In a Macomb County case, Farm Bureau – along with State Farm (which also made our “Worst” list) denied legal compensation to a paralyzed car accident victim, George Veness. Mr. Veness had been paralyzed from the waist down years earlier in work-related accident.

The reason behind Farm Bureau’s denial? Farm Bureau took the position that Mr. Veness should have had auto No Fault insurance coverage — on his motorized wheelchair! Mr. Veness had been using his wheelchair to cross the street when he was struck by an SUV whose at-fault driver (who happened to be an off-duty police officer) was Farm Bureau’s insured customer.
Farm Bureau has tried to justify its otherwise unjustifiable position by claiming that Mr. Veness’s motorized wheelchair qualified as a “motor vehicle” under the No Fault Law and, thus, should be treated like a car or truck for purposes of obtaining No Fault auto insurance coverage.

Because Mr. Veness did not have No Fault coverage on his motorized wheelchair, Farm Bureau went on to argue, he should be treated as an “uninsured” driver and thus, deemed ineligible for any pain and suffering compensation from the at-fault driver, who was the Farm Bureau insured customer.

This is despite the fact that a person couldn’t purchase car insurance for his wheelchair, even if he wanted to and tried. No insurance company in America was selling it, including Farm Bureau, at the time Farm Bureau was making this same disingenuous legal argument!

This case went on to make national news. It was considered so outrageous that the Michigan Legislature even passed a law to stop other insurance companies – like Farm Bureau – from ever making this type of legal argument again.

To learn more, please check out Michigan Auto Law’s blog post, Farm Bureau’s “[T]reatment of wheelchair-bound man so outrageously ‘unbelievable’ it couldn’t be made up.”

But wait, it actually gets worse.

Farm Bureau’s “ethical obligation” to treat paralyzed car accident victim terribly

Farm Bureau went on to say it had an “ethical obligation” for making this frivolous legal argument (one that court filings show Farm Bureau subsequently withdrew once the case made state and national news).

Before this, however, Farm Bureau said it purportedly owed its at-fault insured customer who caused the injury a duty to make this argument in court. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.

Neither Farm Bureau’s auto insurance policy, nor Michigan’s No Fault law, nor Michigan’s Insurance Code imposes on Farm Bureau the type of “ethical” obligation that Farm Bureau claimed to be fulfilling when its lawyers argued that people must buy car insurance for wheelchairs or be considered “uninsured.”

The “ethical obligation” issue was as nonsensical as the argument that people need to insure wheelchairs with car insurance.

What’s really going on here is simple

Farm Bureau got caught denying injury compensation on a clearly valid claim. How many others are also denied because of frivolous legal arguments? To read more, please check out the Michigan Auto Law blog (the first of a three-part series), “Farm Bureau blames phony ‘ethical obligation’ for its frivolous legal argument, shameful treatment of injured man in wheelchair.”

Justice prevailed

I’m pleased to say that, as a result of Farm Bureau’s shameful targeting of auto accident victims in wheelchairs, the law was changed, thereby making it impossible for State Farm or any other Michigan auto insurer to deny No Fault benefits to a paralyzed auto accident victim on the basis he did not have No Fault auto insurance on the motorized wheelchair.

To learn about this welcome – and necessary – change in the law, take a look at my blog post, “BREAKING NEWS: No Fault Law amended to protect motorized-wheelchair users.”

I do not personally like Farm Bureau. Its claims adjusters routinely take positions that I see as unjust. They have consistently been among the very worst claims adjusters I’ve dealt with as an auto accident and insurance attorney.

This is my last post on our attorneys’ worst insurance companies for 2015. Next week, I’ll continue the series with my list of car insurance companies for you to consider.

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Blog Author Steven M. Gursten
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