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Grange Drivers Entitled to Refund

Sep 6, 2007

By Amy Saunders, The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio

Sep. 7--Nearly 200,000 Ohio drivers are due a refund on car-insurance payments now that a class-action lawsuit against Grange Mutual Casualty Co. has been settled for $51 million.

Grange customers can collect $100 to $400 if their policies covered accidents involving uninsured or underinsured motorists between October 1994 and September 1997, said Patrick Perotti, the plaintiffs' attorney.

The lawsuit, filed by Dworken & Bernstein Co. in Painesville, said Grange was overcharging customers for that coverage by requiring them to pay a premium on every vehicle they insured.

Perotti said his firm sued Grange in 1998 in light of a decision by the Ohio Supreme Court. In a 1994 case against State Farm, the court ruled that insurance companies could charge customers only a single premium, which would cover all their vehicles against uninsured and underinsured drivers, he said.

Grange did not acknowledge wrongdoing in settling the case and declined to comment beyond a statement.

"Although Grange is confident that we would have ultimately prevailed in the court system, after nine years of litigation and continued financial risk, we believe it is in the best interest of our policyholders to settle this suit," the statement said.

Grange agreed in the settlement to pay a minimum of $30 million. If customers do not claim their refunds, the money will go to charity.

"That's the purpose of class-action lawsuits -- to benefit society and right certain wrongs that an individual would never take on," Perotti said. "No one would sue Grange over $100, and these big companies know that."

Customers will be mailed notices about the settlement and can call 1-800-495-5737 for more information. Perotti expects the refunds to be paid in February or March.

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