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Dairyland Insurance Company Belongs on Michigan Lawyer’s Shame List

April 13, 2010 by Steven M. Gursten

Insurance company sends full no-fault release seven days after car accident

 

Wow, I’ve seen a lot of dirty tricks pulled by Michigan auto insurance companies over the past 16 years I’ve been helping people injured in car accidents. But what Dairyland Insurance just did to a group of unsuspecting accident victims may actually top my list for dirty tricks. In fact, I’ve never, ever seen a Michigan auto insurance company pull a stunt this outrageous before.

Here’s what happened:

Three people were injured in a car accident on March 1, 2010. They contact their insurance company, which happens to be Dairyland. Dairyland sends on March 8, 2010 a full release to the injured people of all of their Michigan no-fault insurance claims – including the right to future no-fault insurance benefits. This is a legal contract that extinguishes all future rights and claims. And it was sent seven days after the car accident! People usually don’t even get an application for benefits within seven days of contacting their own insurance companies. But a legal release? A legal release is almost always sent at the end of a case, after a lawsuit has been filed.

As a personal injury lawyer, I’ve helped hundreds of people injured in automobile accidents; the other 17 lawyers at Michigan Auto Law have probably helped thousands. Never have we seen a release being sent within days of an accident. It is, as I said, probably 99 percent of the time, sent after a contested lawsuit has been resolved, either through settlement or verdict.

What did the Dairyland Insurance company customers do once they received the release? You guessed it. They signed, potentially extinguishing their ability to receive all future no-fault insurance benefits.

Take a look at the releases from Dairyland.

Dairyland deserves a place smack dab at the top of my Insurance Company Hall of Shame. What responsible auto insurance company would even think about sending to their own insureds a release of all legal rights – past, present, and future – seven days after a car accident?

I’ve told this group to promptly file a complaint with the Michigan Insurance Commissioner. I intend to send a letter as well to hopefully quash this type of insurance abuse as well.

A recipe for disaster

In a sense, what Dairyland did isn’t surprising. It is the logical extension of an insurance company taking advantage of the legal state in Michigan, a state without bad faith laws, punitive damages, or a consumer protection act to protect Michigan residents. If ever there was an episode that screams out to why Michigan residents need better protection from auto insurance companies, it is this. Already, Michigan insurance companies lead the nation in profitability, and Michigan is one of the few states without an insurance commissioner who can regulate how much profit these insurance companies can make, even though its residents are required by law to purchase no-fault insurance.

There is so much wrong here with what Dairyland Insurance company did, that it’s difficult to know where to begin. But I’ll take a stab: This is the most predatory, dirty thing I have ever seen an insurance company pull on its own customers.

If these Dairyland insurance customers now need wage loss, or medical treatment or an expensive surgery, arguably, this release completely absolves Dairyland of any responsibility to provide the benefits that by Michigan law, it must provide.

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:

Time Limits for Filing Car Accident Claims

No-Fault Challenges for Insurance Lawyers

Dealing with Auto Insurance Companies

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 (800) 777-0028 for a free consultation with an auto accident attorney. We can help.

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4 Replies to “Dairyland Insurance Company Belongs on Michigan Lawyer’s Shame List”

  1. You are absolutely right that this belongs in the Hall of Shame. With as little legal leverage as you seem to have in Michigan aganst this kind of behavior, shining the bright light of publicity may be the best way to keep some of this conduct in check. Good for you on calling them out on it.

  2. I am a case manager in Florida dealing with Michigan no fault TBI’s. Most adjusters have been great to work with. One adjuster has been simply awful in much the same manner as described. Florida providers do not, as a rule, understand Michigan no-fault and are easy targets for adjusters to make them look like they are similiar to Florida Workman’s Compensation cases – which are adjuster managed. Two of these cases are significant TBI’s and have no family or advocates other than a case manager fighting upstream.

    Any one have an opinion of how Florida “bad faith” laws apply to acts committed in Florida by a Michigan adjuster and their Florida consultants (not case managers)? I am also pursuing this line of question with Florida attorneys that have bad faith experience, but no Michigan no fault exposure.

  3. We don’t have bad faith in Michigan, but if the insurance company is certified to do business and conducts business in Florida, I would think that Florida bad faith law would apply and Florida would have jurisdiction.

  4. I live in CA. My husband and I bought a new car and went down to our insurance company to have out policy changed. At the time we had Dairyland Insurance, after adding the new car our agent noticed that another company would give us better insurance benefits than Dairyland so we chose the other company. This was on 6/3/10 and our agent canceled our Dairyland policy that day (we have the documentation). on 6/7/10 after 4 days had pasted Dairyland charged out bank account our full months insurance payment. I called out agent and was told it had been canceled and we would be receiving a refund check in 2-3 weeks. Well 2-3 weeks went by and in the 4th week we received a bill from Dairyland stating that they were going to debit our account on 7/5/10 for the full amount again. I called our agent who told me there was nothing she could do about it and for me to just call customer service. I called Dairyland and they said they see where my insurance was canceled on 6/3/10 but that it was done wrong so they needed to call my agent and verify the cancellation. WHAT??? I’m the customer telling you it was and you see that it was so why the need to verify with the agent who canceled it? Anyway she told me she would call them and get back to me. 4 days later I get a call from her telling me that I need to fax a statement saying we no longer want EFT payments so our account will not be debited again because she was waiting for the answer from higher ups if they were going to cancel it and if so if they would back date it to 6/3/10. On 7/9/10 we heard from her again saying okay Dairyland canceled they policy with the cancellation date of 6/3/10, but we will only be receiving a refund in the amount of $36.92 that is $60 less than our payment. When I asked why not the full amount refunded I was told for the paperwork and administrative fees that went into researching our cancellation. Insurance Shame list…They should be #1!!!

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