The American Association for Justice (the new name for the Trial Lawyers Association) did a study of services provided by insurance companies. They studied thousands of news accounts, court documents, FBI and SEC records, and testimony or depositions from previous insurance adjusters and agents. They looked at a range of insurance types — homeowners, health, auto, disability and life insurance.
The winner of this study was:
Allstate scored worst because its commitment is to its shareholders, not to its policy holders. So it pays valid claims as late, as low, and as seldom as it can, in an effort to keep its profit margin as high as possible.
The company began this approach to its policy holder claims after consulting with McKinsey & Co. during the 1990s. They hired McKinsey to come up with a way to increase Allstate’s bottom line. McKinsey’s recommendation was to reduce money paid in claims, even valid claims.
Allstate created a new approach combining “lowball offers and hardball litigation”, as the study describes it. They called it The Three D’s, referring to Deny, Delay and Defend. The hope was that making a claim would become so expensive and time-consuming that attorneys would start refusing to take any claim cases.
Allstate adjusters were rewarded for succeeding with low payments, even in cases where they lied to their customers. Adjusters who claimed arson as a way of denying fire claims were given portable refrigerators.
Some Complaints Against Allstate
- In Maryland Allstate raised premiums and changed people’s policies without giving any notice. For that they paid a $18.6 million fine to the state.
- In Texas Allstate overcharged homeowners throughout the state and for that they paid a $70 million fine to the state.
- In Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina there were 1,200 complaints lodged against Allstate, more than were lodged against any other insurance company
- In California in 2003 after thousands of homes were destroyed by wild fires and 15 people were killed, the insurance regulators received over 600 complaints about Allstate.
- It took four years and many subpoenas before Allstate supplied copies of its McKinsey documents. Allstate described its repeated refusals as “respectful civil disobedience”. Not until Florida suspended Allstate from writing any new business did they finally produce the documents – about 150,000 of them.
This is just a sample of the many complaints made nationwide against Allstate. Watch this space for a posting on the other nine Worst Insurance Companies.
If you have been dealing with any “Three D” behavior from your insurance company, please contact our bad faith insurance attorneys for a free case evaluation.