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Insurance Industry Accused of Maximizing Profits with Lowball Claims Payments

Each Chicago medical malpractice attorney at our firm is used to defending our work against tort reform efforts. We continue to strongly believe that these efforts are universally misguided and are lead by a few small corporate interests that have much to gain by limiting the rights of everyday community members. It is not often than a single resident-no matter how rich or famous-can demand fairness and redress from even the largest corporate interests. In fact, it is only in the courtroom where the scales are equal and there is no benefit to being well-known or having deep-pockets. It is absolutely vital that this level playing field not be tampered with, no matter what the costs.

However, insurance companies in particular are on a continued crusade to take away the rights of so many Illinois medical malpractice victims. It is led by a drive to increase profits. As most blog leaders likely know from personal experience, many insurance companies do everything they can to avoid making payouts. This is true no matter how legitimate the claim might be. In fact, sometimes the companies are held to task for their stalling efforts and decisions which seek to unfairly hurt those who have come to count on them.

For example new allegations toward that end were recently discussed in last month’s edition of “Justice For All”-the newsletter published by the Illinois Trial Lawyer’s Association. Many people are never made aware of the fact that law requires insurance companies to act in good-faith with regard to their customers. In the past, these companies were deemed “semi-pubic trusts.” This meant that they were under certain obligations to serve their clients to a high level. This allowed claims managers to have wide latitude to serve customers in a fair way based on what they saw in person.

However, that has changed over the last twenty years. Now, these companies have switched from being service-oriented to profit-oriented. Instead of giving actual employees discretion in claims based on the reality of the situation, claims are now completely computer-driven. Our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers are aware of the effect this shift has had on basic fairness for consumers. Now, these companies purposefully offer the lowest possible offers to those in need. Those customers who accepted these low claims-often having no idea that they were getting low-balled-would have their claims processed quickly. Conversely, those who did some investigating and realized that their payout would be far less than needed or fair had their claims slow-walked. Those who demanded more were forced to wait.

A former Allstate agent interviewed for a Huffington Post story on the subject explained that “the strategy was to ‘make claims so expensive and so time consuming that lawyers would start refusing to help clients.'” Injury lawyers are likely not surprised by these revelations. We have often explained how the tactics used by so many insurance companies are such that they artificially drive up costs and make the process more complicated than necessary simply to improve their bottom line. More and more community members need to be made aware of this reality. The tort reform debate is simply another part of the plan to increase the power of the insurance companies while shifting the blame to others.

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