Why insurance companies do not want you to consult with an attorney

Over the last decade, Allstate and other insurance companies have adopted highly standardized claims handling systems designed to drive down the amount of money they pay on personal injury claims. These systems generally involve (1) reducing the percentage of injured individuals who hire an attorney by quickly contacting such individuals, building rapport with them, and making early (and low) settlement offers; (2) using main-office-controlled computer programs to provide low “recommended” claim settlement values to their adjustors; and (3) implementing a policy of vigorously litigating with injured individuals who do not accept the insurer’s low-ball settlement offers. For example, the Montana Supreme Court last year noted that there was a “high probability” under Allstate’s claims handling system that “an unrepresented claimant would receive less than a represented claimant.” Jacobsen v. Allstate, 215 P.3d 649, 659 – 60 (Montana 2010). Likewise, the federal district court stated in Wells v. Allstate, 210 F.R.D. 1, 4 (D. D.C. 2002), that “Allstate concedes that claimants represented by counsel receive settlements two to three times greater than those who proceed without counsel, and admits that the goal of [its redesigned claims system] was to reduce the level of attorney representation.” If anything, these observations are understated. Internal Allstate documents from that redesign effort state, for example, that “Opportunity [to save Allstate money] is driven by attorney involvement . . . Payments on represented claims is on average five times the size of uprepresented claims . . . Attorney representation can be reduced.” Insurance companies do not want to you to consult with an attorney for a reason, and that reason is to save them money.

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