Insured's compliance with State Farm's notice instructions prevents summary disposition for insurer
Jennifer Albrecht suffered a broken arm when a trailer gate fell and struck her. The trailer was attached to a vehicle her husband was backing into the barn to load pigs. The family's health insurance was with State Farm, as were the vehicle and farm insurance. (Probably aren't any more...) The Albrecht's reported the claim to their agent, a State Farm employee, who sent them an application for hospitalization benefits, which they duly filled out and returned. Months later, the Albrechts learned that their medical expenses should have been covered 100% through no fault coverage and complained to State Farm: it refused no fault coverage claiming that the Albrechts had not provided it with notice of a no fault claim.
The Court ruled that the lower court would have to analyze whether State Farm was estopped to deny benefits on the basis of lack of timely notice, due to its employee's alleged negligence. Two of the judges ruled that if the agent--who claimed he did not know the trailer was attached to a State Farm vehicle when the injury occurred--was negligent in responding to the Albrecht's claims, State Farm will not be allowed to raise the notice issue. The third judge, Judge Peter O'Connell, was even more blunt: Since the insureds contacted State Farm, reported the incident and filled out the forms proffered to them, it would be a denial of common sense to allow State Farm to claim lack of notice. Unfortunately, insurers don't hold themselves to a common sense standard in Michigan, after a couple of decades of Engler Majority pro-insurance decisions.