The American Association for Justice issued a report this Wednesday naming the worst insurance companies for consumers in the US. According to the report, “the rankings show a distinct pattern of insurance industry greed amongst 10 companies that refuse to pay just claims, employ hardball tactics against policyholders, reward executives with extravagant salaries, and raise premiums while hoarding excessive profits.”
The following companies were selected after a six-month review of information from court documents, SEC records, FBI records, state insurance department investigations/complaints, nationwide news accounts and testimony of former insurance agents. Surprisingly, the companies in the “top five” are well-known and pretty popular choices among American consumers:
1. ALLSTATE – CEO, Thomas Wilson; 2007 compensation, $10.7 million; 2007 profits, $4.6 billion; assets: $156.4 billion. “According to investigations and documents Allstate was forced to make public, the company systematically placed profits over its own policyholders… The amount Allstate paid in claims dropped from 79 percent of its premium income in 1996 to just 58 percent 10 years later. In auto claims, payouts dropped from 63 percent to just 47 percent.
2. UNUM – CEO, Thomas Watjen; 2007 compensation, $7.3 million; 2007 profits, $679 million; assets, $52.4 billion. “Unum, one of the nation’s leading disability insurers, has long had a reputation for unfairly denying and delaying claims..”
3. AIG – CEO, Robert Willumstad; 2007 compensation for former CEO, 14.3 million; 2007 profits: $6.2 billion; assets, $1.06 trillion; “AIG executives have also come under fire for opportunistically seeking price increases during catastrophes. Now the company has been labeled ‘the new Enron’ because of charges of multibillion-dollar corporate fraud.”
4. STATE FARM – CEO: Edward B. Rust Jr.; 2007 compensation, $11.7 million; 2007 profits: $5.5 billion; assets, $181.4 billion. “In many cases, the company has gone to extreme lengths to avoid paying claims, including forging signatures on earthquake waivers after the deadly Northridge earthquake, and altering engineering reports regarding damage after Hurricane Katrina.”
5. CONSECO – CEO, C. James Prieur; 2007 compensation: $2.6 million; 2007 profits: $179.9 million; assets: $33.5 billion. “Conseco sells long-term-care policies, typically to the elderly. Unfortunately, Conseco uses the deteriorating health of its policyholders to its advantage because the company knows if it waits long enough to pay out claims, its customers will die.”
What’s not surprsing, however, is the fact that insurance representatives from the above mentioned companies have wasted no time attacking the trial lawyers behind the study. A spokesman for Allstate told the press, “We’re not surprised we’re being targeted by the trial and personal injury lawyers because Allstate has always been at the forefront of the fight against insurance fraud and the effort to resist unreasonable demands made by lawyers.”
The sad part is that any person with insurance knows that you pay an arm and a leg for insurance “just incase,” but when an accident happens, its a nightmare to get what you deserve. It doesn’t take a trial lawyer to point that out– although they are in the best position to make that allegation because they deal with insurance companies on a day to day basis.
I don’t think consumers are buying this argument either. After all, its awfully hard to feel sorry for a CEO (such as Allstate’s Thomas Wilson), who racks in $10.7 million a year, while most people struggle just to pay their bill.