A new study from the Insurance Research Council shows more people are hiring attorneys to receive first party insurance benefits (in Washington State, this primarily includes Personal Injury Protection and Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage). The conclusion of the study, funded by the insurance industry, is that attorneys are delaying claims settlement and that the insured is ending up with less money than if they hadn’t hired an attorney.
Nonsense. Crazy. Ridiculousness.
Every week someone comes into my office and says, “I really don’t want to hire an attorney, no offense, but the insurance company just won’t pay.” Of course, I tell them there is no offense taken. I wouldn’t hire an attorney unless I felt like I had to, either. In fact, I haven’t hired an attorney yet. Other times, potential clients come into my office and we have a short conversation; I tell them that they may not need an attorney since they are not dealing with one of the top five worst insurance companies and they can probably settle the claim on their own. I tell them to come back if they don’t get a result close to what I would expect to be reasonable in Kennewick, Pasco, or Richland. I often don’t see such people return.
But, here are some recurring examples of what my clients have told me:
– My insurance company won’t pay me for my stolen car because they think I stole it (even though I have no criminal history… who steals their own car?!),
– My insurance company won’t pay for my medical expenses because they say I should have been better after 6 weeks of treatment,
– My insurance company is telling me that I am at fault because a lady without insurance rear-ended me,
– My insurance company told me they won’t pay my car accident bills since I had a session of physical therapy and chiropractic treatment in the same day.
And on and on. Yes, attorney representation is increasing, but it’s not a result of effective advertising or social trendiness (“IMHO, you should totally get an attorney! Anderson Law is awesome!) It’s because insurance companies go to ever-increasing lengths to defend, delay, and deny coverage. It is hardly unusual for an insurance company to pay $50,000 to defense attorneys and “experts” to deny a claim worth $10,000. And it is certainly not unusual for an insurance company to pay millions to market themselves as friendly with a cute reptile, a helpful store employee, or almost anything that will detract attention from their actual practices.
In the insurance industry, the old Latin phrase “caveat emptor” has never been more relevant. Buyer, beware!
Oh, here’s the link to an article about the study. And just for fun, take a look at the comment that was censored below the article: