Insurance Claims Increasingly Fought in Court

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, Nov. 11, 2013 12:00 am  

McKinney, of the American Tort Reform Association, said in some cases the insurance company has to defend itself in a lawsuit. If an insurance company keeps settling claims brought by attorneys, the lawyers will keep coming, he said.

“Once you’ve done that four, five, six times, you’ve established a pattern; you’ve essentially stuck a sign on your back that says, ‘Sue Me,’” McKinney said. “Once you’ve established yourself as an easy mark, you shouldn’t be surprised to know that these claims will become more frequent.”

He said that even if fighting the case in court might cost the company more than settling, the fight might be worth it to the insurance company not to pay claims it thinks has no merit.

“The notion is we’ll send a signal to future grifters that we’re not an easy mark,” McKinney said. “And if you want to take us to court, you better have a righteous claim.”

‘The Delay Game’

Plaintiff’s attorneys told Arkansas Business that they have to drag insurance companies to court because they are slow to settle a case.

“The delay game is part of all of this,” said Bill Horton, an attorney in Rogers who handles personal injury cases.

He said insurance companies will draw the case out, hoping that the policyholder will settle the case for a lower amount than it’s worth.

In the truck driver’s case, Hampton said he received his last check for short-term disability in February 2011. The U.S. Department of Transportation forbids diabetics from driving commercial motor vehicles, so Hampton asked for long-term disability, which would provide coverage for two years.

Hampton said his insurance carrier, Reliance, kept asking him for information about his claim; he provided it, Hampton said. But two to three months later, Reliance would ask for more documents.

“I kept doing everything they were asking,” he said.

In July 2011, his claim was denied. “I was like there was no way, because I had read the policy,” he said.



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