NJ Lawyers Combat Bad Faith Practices in the Insurance Industry
“The bottom line is that insurance companies make money when they don’t pay claims…They’ll do anything to avoid paying, because if they wait long enough, they know the policyholders will die.”
– Mary Beth Senkewicz, former senior executive at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners
People buy insurance policies to help them through difficult times. When a fire destroys your home, when disaster strikes your business, when you are diagnosed with a serious illness and need long-term care, you depend on the insurance company to be there. Unfortunately, too often, that’s not the case. When insurance companies fail to live up to the terms of their policies and unreasonably deny claims or delay payment, the public suffers.
“Insurance bad faith” is the legal term used to describe the actions of insurance companies that either refuse to pay their claims or make it very difficult for victims to collect fair recoveries. The personal injury attorneys at the Clark Law Firm, PC, can help protect you from these standard industry practices. Recently the American Association for Justice released a report identifying, “The Ten Worst Insurance Companies In America: How They Raise Premiums, Deny Claims, and Refuse Insurance to Those Who Need It Most.”
To identify the worst insurance companies for consumers, researchers at the American Association for Justice undertook a comprehensive investigation of thousands of court documents, SEC and FBI records, state insurance department investigations and complaints, news accounts from across the country, and the testimony and depositions of former insurance agents and adjusters. The Justice Association research culminated in a list of the Top Ten Worst Insurance Companies.
Unfair Insurance Company Practices – Forcing Cases to Trail
The American Association of Justice also released a report which highlights bad faith insurance practices by some of the nation’s largest insurers. It is entitled “Tricks Of The Trade: How Insurance Companies Deny, Delay, Confuse and Refuse.”
“Some of America’s most well-known insurance companies-the same ones that spend billions on advertising to earn your trust-have endeavored to deny claims, delay payments, confuse consumers with incomprehensible insurance-speak, and retroactively refuse anyone who may cost them money.”
The report goes on to outline tactics that target insurance policyholders and identifies the insurance companies that are engaging in these practices. The experienced N.J. personal injury lawyers at the Clark Law Firm, PC, can help protect you and your loved ones to prevent these from these abuses and provide you with the ability to fight back. In most NJ personal injury lawsuit cases there is an insurance company behind the scenes fighting the claim and justifying dangerous conduct. Experienced New Jersey accident lawyers are familiar with their tactics and will fight for your right to justified compensation. When the insurance company uses its delay tactics and forces a case to trial many years after the injury happened, the trial attorneys at the Clark Law Firm, PC can fight for your legal rights in court and work to get you the result you deserve.
Wrongful Claim Denials
“Farmers [insurance company] even ran an employee incentive program, “Quest for Gold,” that offered incentives, including $25 gift certificates and pizza parties, to adjusters who met low payment goals.”
Making an insurance claim is likely to happen at a time when you are most vulnerable. Filing a claim with your insurance company usually follows an upset to everyday life that could involve a car accident, a tree falling on your house, or hospitalization from a serious illness. For the insurance company it is business as usual. Many insurance companies routinely delay claims to try to avoid paying. By delaying as long as possible, stretching out cases including bringing them to trial, the insurance company knows many of its claimants will eventually give up, or in some cases die.
Some of the nation’s largest insurance companies have denied legitimate claims in an attempt to enhance their bottom lines. These companies have rewarded employees who successfully denied claims, replaced employees who would not, and when all else failed, engaged in outright fraud to avoid paying claims. These practices clearly display the insurance industry’s preference of putting their profits over the public good. If you have found yourself on the short end of the insurance claim stick, contact the NJ lawyers at the Clark Law Firm, PC. We can review your case facts and provide you the legal advice you seek.
Delaying Until Death
“The insurance company made it so hard to make a claim that people either died or gave up.”
— Betty Hobel, former Conseco agent
Many insurance companies routinely delay claims, fully aware that many policyholders will simply give up. Unquestionably, the most shameful use of delay tactics has been by long-term care insurers, who often take advantage of their policyholders’ age and ill health. These long term care insurers know that if they are able to delay the payment on the claim long enough the insured will either give up or eventually die. Employees at long-term care insurer Conseco and its subsidiaries have testified to a variety of tricks used to deny claims: deliberately mailing the wrong forms and then denying claims on the basis of incorrect paperwork; declaring policyholders have abandoned the claim if they fail to submit forms within 21 days; and withholding payment until the policyholder submitted documents not even required under the terms of the policy.
“Insurers generally are attempting to convince the customer when selling the policy that everything is covered and convince the court when a claim is made that nothing is covered.”
— South Carolina Supreme Court
Insurance contracts are some of the longest, complex and incomprehensible contracts a consumer is ever likely to see. More than half of all states have enacted “plain English” laws for consumer contracts, yet many Americans still do not fully understand the risks they are subject to. In the words of one commentator, the contracts “may as well be written in hieroglyphics. They are nearly impossible to decipher, [with] one incomprehensible clause after another.” When you come up against this, contact the New Jersey accident lawyers at the Clark Law Firm, PC to help you. We are familiar with insurance policy language and laws and can guide you through the New Jersey injury claim process.
The Insurance Industry’s Wealth
A former Allstate claims adjuster said that the company told employees to get rid of claims quickly and cheaply and even offered some accident victims as little as $50, telling them to take it or leave it. Another said that the strategy consisted of 3 D’s — denying a claim, delaying settlement of the claim, and defending against the claim in court. According to Allstate Chief Executive Officer Thomas Wilson, Allstate’s mission was clear, “Our obligation is to earn a return for our shareholders”. Unfortunately the dedication of shareholders puts profits over the fiduciary responsibility owed to their policyholder to resolve claims in a proper and fair fashion. Not to advance frivolous defenses at trial, including the use of industry paid medical “experts” who claim in every (or nearly every) case the plaintiff is not injured or that the injuries are from a long standing “degenerative” condition.
The result has been huge profits for the insurance companies and great frustration for victims of personal injuries and the families of victims of wrongful deaths. The U.S. insurance industry takes in over $1 trillion in premiums annually. Moreover, it has $3.8 trillion in assets, more than the GDPs of all but two countries in the world (United States and Japan). Over the last 10 years, the property/casualty insurance industry has enjoyed average profits of over $30 billion a year. The life and health side of the insurance industry has averaged another $30 billion. The CEOs of the top 10 property/casualty firms earned an average $8.9 million in 2007. Furthermore, the CEOs of the top 10 life and health insurance companies earned even more—an average $9.1 million. Finally, the median insurance CEO’s cash compensation still leads all industries at $1.6 million per year. This is all at the expense of the public who is exposed to dangerous conduct which causes injury that the insurance company will use its vast resources of paid experts to justify or minimize.
Insurance companies are in business to protect their financial interests – not yours. That is why it helps to have an experienced New Jersey insurance claim attorney on your side to help you. The experienced New Jersey personal injury lawyers at the Clark Law Firm, PC, represent those who have been harmed and have been treated unfairly by their insurance company. Sometimes the insurance company has denied the claim; sometimes they have offered an unfair or no settlement for a justified claim, forcing the matter to trial before a jury. If you have been injured in an accident, contact the New Jersey personal injury lawyers at the Clark Law Firm, PC. We will examine your facts and negotiate on your behalf. We will expose the rule violations that resulted in your injuries and will work hard to get you the insurance recovery you deserve.