Michigan Auto Insurance Bad Faith Delay & Denial Tactics are Exposed in this WXYZ – Channel 7 News Investigative Report
You’re an obvious victim of an accident but your insurance company won’t pay your claim on time. So what can you do? If you live in Michigan, you can’t do much. Action News investigator Ray Sayah has more on an insurance industry that’s making more money than ever, often at the expense of your rights.
If you live here in Michigan, you simply don’t have many rights when it comes to fighting the insurance giants, and no one knows that better than a woman who was an obvious victim of an accident but suddenly found herself being investigated as a suspected criminal.
At a rehab center just outside Flint, Renee Baldwin wipes away tears.
How does it feel? Hurts.
But the pain isn’t all because a reckless driver rear-ended Renee’s car and tore her shoulder muscle.
Wham. I didn’t even see it coming.
And it isn’t because the accident wasn’t her fault. Renee is in pain because the insurance companies on the case, even the one that promised to be on her side, said, Renee, we suspect you of fraud, so we’re not going to pay you on time.
They say Renee is lying.
But they don’t have any proof, do they?
They have nothing.
Attorney Dan Bigsby says what insurance companies did to Renee is what they often do to innocent victims in accidents. Instead of promptly paying their claim, they tell the victim we don’t believe your claim.
They’re drawing up a wall alleging insurance fraud, suspected insurance fraud and not paying. And once that happens it’s you against the insurance industry. And here in Michigan, the law is set up where unless you’re a millionaire, you don’t have much of a chance.
They’re just hoping that people will walk away. People who can’t afford to fight them in a court will walk away?
That’s exactly what I’m talking about.
Have they offered you any evidence that you’re lying?
Renee, who worked for more than two decades as a school janitor was out of money and out of hope until retired attorney Dan Bigsby offered to help for free.
It makes me very angry that insurance companies wield this much power and the victims who are in car accidents have none.
Bigsby says not only did Nationwide suspect Renee of fraud without out shred of evidence, their investigative team teamed up with Renee’s insurance Titan to dig into her work and medical history without Renee ever giving permission.
I mean, the whole system is stacked in favor of these insurance companies. Law professor Gary Mayveal says the sad truth is Michigan lawmakers have made insurance law so vague and so in favor of the powerful insurance industry, insurance companies can accuse you of fraud without any evidence and delay your claim and you can’t do much about it.
That language “suspected fraud” doesn’t define, doesn’t attempt to define what’s a reasonable suspicion of a fraud and I suggest to you that it’s purposely written.
The insurance laws are so vague, not even Linda Watters, Michigan’s insurance commissioner could give a simple answer to a simple question.
Can the insurance companies exchange personal medical and employment information without evidence of fraud; yes or no under Michigan law? Do you want to refer to the law?
Is it possible for us to cut this interview now?
May I ask why?
Well, no. No. I mean, we don’t have to stop.
Ultimately in a letter to Action News, the commissioner’s office wrote, There is nothing for the commissioner to investigate. They said, Well, we don’t have any power to enforce those laws.
The good news for Renee is thanks to Dan Bigsby’s persistence, ten months after the accident the insurance company’s finally paid most of what she’s due. But what if you don’t have help from a generous lawyer? What if like most citizens, you have to take on Michigan’s powerful insurance industry by yourself? Odds are you’re going to lose in a state with laws that have made the insurance industry richer and more powerful than ever, sometimes at the expense of honest and innocent citizens like Renee Baldwin.
This array of law in Michigan invites abuse. Where they’re making billions stepping on the rights. They wouldn’t be doing this if they weren’t making money on this.
It’s very simple in Michigan. A system is set up where companies benefit when they delay your claims because they know the average citizen can’t afford to sue them and the insurance commissioner simply has no power to help. It’s a system set up by your elected lawmakers, so if you want change, you have to let them know about it.
Ray Sayah, Channel 7 Action News.