Court finds Allstate’s personal injury claims handling constitutes “malicious abuse of process”

As noted in a recent post here, Allstate has instituted a systematic, nation-wide claims handling system designed to drive down the amount of money it pays on personal injury claims. That system came under review in a recent New Mexico case where five individuals sued Allstate for “low balling” their auto personal injury claims. The Court found that Allstate had violated fair claims handling requirements “by not attempting to effectuate . . . prompt, fair and equitable settlement[s],” “compelling each of the plaintiffs to litigate their claims through a jury trial to final judgment,” and improperly using the judicial system in “an attempt to delay or extort each of the plaintiffs into accepting less than the full value of their benefits under their policy.” The Court found Allstate’s conduct constituted “malicious abuse of process.” Martinez et. al. v. Allstate, Case No. D-0101-CV-200400963, County of Santa Fe, First Judicial District, oral order dated 11/13/09). This case illustrates that injured individuals often receive Allstate’s promised “Good Hands” treatment only if they accept Allstate’s “low ball” settlement offers. Otherwise they are subject to — as an Allstate consultant put it — the “Boxing Gloves” treatment. Be prepared to put on your boxing gloves when dealing with Allstate!

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