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Elderly Woman Protests High Insurance Bill

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DELTA TWP. (AP) – An 83-year-old woman says she won’t suffer silently after an insurance company raised her bill from $585 to $4,092.

Alice LaDuke lately has been standing outside the home office of Auto-Owners Insurance in Delta Township, near Lansing, wearing a sign that says the company wants to whack her with a 600 percent surcharge. She believes it’s terribly unfair.

“I’m sorry I had two claims,” LaDuke told the Lansing State Journal, “but that’s why we have insurance. I don’t go around trying to cheat anybody.”

Indeed, those two claims since 2009 have been cited as the reasons for the whopping increase. A forgotten pot on the stove resulted in smoke damage worth $2,864. A plugged drain in her basement cost the insurer $585.

“I would suggest looking into coverage elsewhere. I apologize for any inconvenience,” Mandy Haggerty of Alder Insurance Agency in Haslett wrote in November.

The newspaper said LaDuke, a Potterville resident, got another letter Wednesday from Andrew Eriksen, an assistant vice president at Auto-Owners.

“Both of these losses were not fortuitous, and were a result of your actions,” the letter said, referring to the earlier claims. “Unfortunately your past losses are predictive of the likelihood of future similar-type losses. Consequently, our underwriter priced your policy with an appropriate surcharge.”

Auto-Owners spokesman Andy Flanagan told the State Journal that he couldn’t discuss details of LaDuke’s insurance coverage but said she might eligible for other programs “as well as coverage with other companies.”

LaDuke’s two vehicles still are insured by Auto-Owners but her home policy has expired. She may have to go elsewhere for insurance but that poses more challenges.

“This black mark against me would make it very difficult to get insurance with another company,” she said.

LaDuke isn’t putting down her signs yet, even in rough weather. She has marched eight days, including Thursday. Some cars honked in support.

“I won’t melt,” she told the newspaper.

© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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