I recently discussed some of the dirty tricks the insurance industry uses to deny claims or to delay payments and told you I would later give examples. Today, I'll tell you about one of the techniques used by insurance companies to increase their bottom lines.
Consider this scenario. You are in your car running an errand. Suddenly, a pickup truck crosses the center line from the opposite direction and smashes into you head on. When you wake up from the coma days later, you have collapsed lungs, multiple broken bones, medical bills beyond imagination, and the news that your next painful months will be under the constant care of medical personnel. Now, you get the unexpected news from the insurance company that you had paid premiums to for years. It has denied coverage to you, because it claims the driver who hit you acted in a moment of deliberate road rage, so the accident was not really an accident at all. As such, it wasn't covered. You can't work, your bills pile up, and your insurance company has said "goodbye" to you. This is the true story of a 60-year-old woman who had a $2 million policy with one of the largest insurance companies in the U.S.
That insurance company, like others, is in the business of denying claims as a way to boost its bottom line profits. Her company even had an employee program that offered incentives, including $25 gift certificates and pizza parties, to adjusters who met low payment goals. It wasn't and isn't the only insurance company systematically denying claims without good reason. Some of the nations' largest companies, including the infamous AIG, hated within the legal world and so tarnished by its near economic failure and government bailout that it has changed its name to protect the guilty, have earned reputations as aggressive claims fighters in an attempt to boost their bottom lines. That's not what the policyholders pay them to do.
One company that I'll refer to as "Sadstate" Insurance gave adjusters who denied valid claims rewards like portable refrigerators. When units of another insurer lost money, its executives put in place new teams of adjusters to systematically reject thousands of valid claims. Following an earthquake in California, one company's officials forged signatures on waivers of earthquake coverage to avoid paying quake-related claims.
These travesties of justice are usually, but not always, caught by vigilant attorneys as was the case of the lady I mentioned whose insurance company claimed the wreck was deliberate, not accidental. She eventually prevailed but only after a legal battle that she shouldn't have had to engage in. Too many people are victims twice in a wreck, first, because of the fault of a careless driver and, then, a second time, from the dirty tricks of an insurance company.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in an accident as a result of someone else's negligence, call my Panama City office for a free consultation and to review your potential case.
Wes Pittman appears weekly on Thursday during the WJHG-TV noon news. He talks about various topics. Tune in and watch.