“Insurance sliding” shows exactly why discussions about fraud must also include illegal insurance industry practices.
Insurance sliding is a deceptive and predatory tactic that’s practiced by insurance agents to the detriment of their clients.
According to the State of Michigan’s Department of Insurance and Financial Services, sliding is:
“an agent’s failure to fully disclose all of the details of, and obtain informed consent to, the purchase of all products and services being included in an insurance transaction.”
Problems arise when, as a result of not alerting the consumer to all the charges associated with the insurance premium, the total cost turns out to be higher than expected.
Examples of insurance sliding include:
- Claiming that roadside assistance is part of an individual’s insurance plan when it is not.
- Claiming that roadside assistance is necessary when purchasing auto insurance in Michigan when it is not.
- Stating that additional coverages are required in addition to the purchase of insurance when it is not.
- Failing to disclose, explain or break down all the coverages associated with an insurance policy, and the cost of those coverages.
- Failing to accurately disclose the actual cost of the insurance coverage.
- Charging an individual applying for insurance for additional products beyond the insurance policy being purchased without that individual’s consent.
By no means are these the only examples of insurance sliding. Rather, they are merely illustrative of the phenomenon.
The director of the Department of Insurance and Financial Services has the authority to take action against persons who engage in insurance sliding. The punishment may include being placed on probation, suspension or revocation of the applicable license, or the imposition of a fine. In fact, MCL 500.1239(1)(h) says that a person found to engage in “fraudulent, coercive, or dishonest practices or demonstrating incompetence, untrustworthiness, or financial irresponsibility in the conduct of business in this state or elsewhere” will be subject to punishment.
In recent years, much has been made about fraud in the Michigan no-fault insurance system. The insurance industry has been quick to point out cases where medical providers and lawyers have attempted to dupe the system. The industry has used the negative actions of a few as justification to dismantle the no-fault law that has helped thousands of people injured in Michigan car accidents.
Bulletins issued by the Department of Insurance and Financial Services demonstrate the other side of the argument: what about the fraud perpetrated against Michigan consumers by insurance companies and their agents?
Addressing this question, Lansing car accident lawyer Steve Sinas and Grand Rapids auto accident attorney Tom Sinas wrote an article titled “Abuse of no-fault law happens on both sides, hurts victims,” which was published in Bridge Magazine. The article highlights the fact that insurance adjusters are notorious for working to deny legitimate no-fault claims, working with doctors in order to protect the bottom line. This is often accomplished through what is called the independent medical examination (IME):
“Adjusters will also arrange for victims to undergo so-called independent medical examinations. Too often, these exams are done by doctors who, instead of treating patients, work primarily for insurance companies. In fact, recent lawsuits have uncovered that many of these doctors perform hundreds or sometimes thousands of insurance-company examinations each year. Not surprisingly, these doctors often disregard the recommendations of the victim’s medical providers and render conclusions that the adjuster uses to cut off further medical treatment. Unfortunately, the Michigan Legislature has done nothing over the past few decades to provide the people of Michigan with any further protection against this kind of insurance company conduct.”
The Sinas Dramis Law Firm does not believe this type of behavior fair. And as Michigan consumers, neither should you.
In order to legitimately discuss insurance fraud, Michigan auto insurers need to step up and take responsibility for their own questionable actions. Failing to do so is a real disservice to all Michigan consumers.