man keeps cash away from victimWhen you purchase an auto insurance policy, you hope you’ll never need to make a claim. But car accidents happen. You may have a claim against another driver’s insurance. Also, there are circumstances under which you look to your own insurance to repay your losses. Unfortunately, because the insurance industry has become increasingly profit-driven over the past three decades, receiving full financial compensation after a car crash has become increasingly difficult.

When people are seriously injured due to the negligent actions of another, it’s crucial they contact an experienced personal injury attorney. A lawyer will begin dealing with insurance companies directly on behalf of a victim, so he or she can focus on healing.

Whether an accident * resulted in serious injury or death or was a minor fender-bender, all too often, insurance companies employ strategies to lower claims costs. Frequently, insurers engage in tactics of “Delay, Deny, Defend,” as noted in Jay M. Feinman’s 2010 book of that title. Many of the largest insurers frequently delay payment as long as possible, deny payment on valid claims altogether, and vigorously defend against litigation when a policyholder is forced to sue her own insurance company to receive the compensation she deserves under her policy.

But insurance companies have been accused of other cost-saving methods. In 2006, Farmers Insurance reached a settlement with plaintiffs of more than $17 million in a California class action suit over allegations the insurer breached its contracts with policyholders by requiring non-Original Equipment Manufactured parts for repairs. Allstate has been accused of illegally “steering” business away from shops that won’t buy parts from Allstate’s chosen provider, or won’t do the work the way the insurer wants it done.

Similar to the Farmer’s case, policyholders sued State Farm for repairing their vehicles with generic, lower-quality parts in violation of their policies. The plaintiffs later accused the “good neighbor” company of secretly funneling more than $3.5 million into the election coffers of an Illinois judge favorably disposed toward State Farm’s defense, in violation of the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. The case dragged out over 19 years and finally culminated in a $250 million settlement in September 2018. State Farm made its settlement offer only as opening statements were set to begin.

By settling the case, even for such a significant sum, State Farm admitted no guilt and it avoided the risk that a jury would have found it guilty of corrupt practices and all the attendant bad press. It’s an extreme example of the lengths to which big insurance companies are willing to go to keep every policyholder dollar for as long as possible. Investment income is the insurance industry’s biggest source of profit. Insurance premiums primarily provide cash flow, so the longer these companies hold onto premium dollars without paying them out on claims, the more they can keep in profitable investments.

The problem for insureds is that insurance is like no other product. By the time people need it, they can’t return an insurance policy if it doesn’t do the job as promised. The insured can’t go buy a better auto policy after a car crash and expect coverage for losses already suffered. While it’s difficult to quantify how widespread “delay, deny, defend” tactics are, it’s an open secret for those in the know that it drives insurance claims practices.

As personal injury attorneys, we see daily the foot-dragging and low-ball offers by insurance companies. We understand the value to injured people of claims that are fairly and promptly paid. We are highly experienced in negotiating with insurers to achieve optimum, timely financial outcomes. We have a well-deserved reputation for taking cases to trial when necessary. If you have been injured in an accident and need assistance making a claim against your own or another driver’s insurance company, call us today. We’ve recovered more than $125 million on behalf of victims, and we are ready to assist you.

Besides Rochester, we serve the following major southeast Minnesota cities: Red Wing, Winona, Mankato, Austin, Albert Lea, and Owatonna, and all outlying communities, as well as the cities of Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth, and Bloomington. We also serve the Iowa cities of Mason City, Charles City, Osage, Spencer, Garner, Forest City, and Northwood and the Wisconsin cities of La Crosse, Onalaska, Sparta, Viroqua, River Falls, Ellsworth, Whitehall, and Black River Falls.

*A note about language:

Federal agencies involved in traffic safety have banned use of the word “accident” for more than 20 years, and with good reason. However, we use the word “accident” on our website, even though we know it has implications that run contrary to our professional thinking and training, because we recognize that “accident” is the word most commonly used in online searches when people are looking for help after being injured in a crash. If you’d like more information about this topic, please see our blog, “Car Accident or Car Crash?”