November 21, 2022 – A New Hampshire body repair shop owner recently represented himself in the High Court and won a case against State Farm.
According to Insurance Journal, Steve Piispanen opted out of an attorney when he appealed a judge’s decision to dismiss a $1,093.37 claim against State Farm. He wrote a brief and appeared before the New Hampshire Supreme Court for oral argument.
Piispanen owns Keene Auto Body, and its client Caleb Meagher used his right to sue State Farm “after the insurer refused to pay the full amount Piispanen said was needed to repair the vehicle,” according to Insurance Journal. .
Piispanen then filed a small claims suit, but State Farm argued that Meagher’s policy states that “any assignment of benefits is invalid unless State Farm approves the assignment,” according to Insurance Journal.
A local judge dismissed the complaint but did not explain why. Fast forward to Piispanen’s aforementioned self-representation in the New Hampshire Supreme Court, and after reviewing Meagher’s case, the court ruled that State Farm’s policy was “ambiguous because the language did not indicate specifically that it applied to damage claims”. according to the Journal des Assurances.
Part of Piispanen’s self-representation included detailed parts he said State Farm refused to pay for that were needed to repair the vehicle. For example, he said State Farm wanted him to use a halogen headlight instead of an OEM LED headlight, which was more expensive.