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

May 25, 2010 by Steven M. Gursten

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 (248) 353-7575 for a free consultation with an auto accident attorney. We can help.

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4 Replies to “Winner of 2010 Insurance Company Skunk Award is…. Farm Bureau”

  1. It’s crazy because as a consumers, we only see the site they’ve painted on commercials but never the really deal. These things are only reveal when layers have experience dealing with them. Too bad many customers come to know this only when they have encountered it.

  2. OMG… I was an independent agent with Farm Bureau for ten years. They do their best to deny legitimate claims. I had a client whose home caught fire, he’d been a FB client for nine years. None the less, his home caught fire and as you know ALL fire losses are investigated, rightfully so. The fire happened in October 2009. The home was boarded and estimates provided for the repair. Due to the investigation, the home sat vacant through the winter months. They stopped paying the additional living expenses until two months AFTER deposition that didn’t happen until January. The home was not settled until July 2010. Thus, the client went several months with out additional living excenses and the claim which could have been settled at 26k, ended up costing 145k. The home sat vacant so long, that the pipes froze, and vandals stole items from the home that were not destroyed by fire. This is one of many examples I can give. Its not about the delay, it is the fact that clients pay premiums for the just in case, however Farm Bureau delay’s the process of settlement as long as possible.

  3. You have my permission to publish. I still am insured with FB but after reading all this will be changing soon. I too have been mistreated by Farm Bureau, my huband and I switched car insurance and homeowners after seeing that the rates were in raising for having three deer car accidents that were unavoidable in 7 months with two different cars in our houehold. We were orginally with the other company for about 11 years no accidents till the deer accidents or tickets . we switched to FB then price was right then my husband and I separated. within 3 months they raised my home owners policy 2times from 436.00 a year two 536.00 then it went to 736.00. because I could not get the married discount and I was not over 50, quite yet. then my car insurance was raised. because I was considered higher risk because I do not work. now tell me if this is not dicrimation and how can they change rates brfore your policy is up!!!!!!!!!!!! They are rip offs

  4. I am 34 year old single mother of a beautiful 3 year old. I am homeless with my child, dog and cat. I had a flood due to a pipe. My insurance adjuster talked me into trusting her. She had me fire the emergency water restoration company I hired and hire “her guys” from Safe Harbour. They damaged almost all of my personal property, worked on the wrong walls and left water damage in my home. I called her over and over again to tell her what they had done. Her reply was, “why are you calling me, I have nothing to do with this, they are your contractors, you signed the contract, not me” I told her that I was going to fire them. She told me if I fired them she would no longer pay my additional living expense. My policy says I have up to 12 months. Well, she did it and now for the past two weeks we seriously have no where to live. I worked so hard to have a safe, stable home in a very upscale neighborhood and now we are staying over an hour away from school and work because I ran out of savings….Farm Bureau is Horrible…please dont let this happen to you!!! Do your research before you choose a home owners insurance. I will never quit fighting but how can any human do this to someone….let alone a 3year child. There is sooo much more to this story but hopefully it will have a good ending here soon.

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