Lumberton NC Insurance Bad Faith Attorney Woodberry (Woody) Bowen chuckled at the professionally lettered sign placed conspicuously in the front yard of a house on the way to Cross Creek Mall in Fayetteville, NC. The sign said:
If there's a claim then you're to blame.
As a veteran trial attorney for North Carolina insurance claims, Bowen knew that it was not just Nationwide about which this could be said.
Time was when insurance companies took seriously and ethically their duty to pay just and legitimate claims within a reasonable time. No longer for most insurers.
But some are worse than others. An independent organization published in 2008 an article entitled The Ten Worst Insurance Companies in America in which bad faith practices of major insurance companies are catalogued. And take a moment to check out the story of a midwest school teacher who took on one of the nation's largest insurance companies when she was denied just compensation from a house fire. Check out www.farmbureaulies.com.
The insurance industry commissioned the McKinsey Report in 2005 in order to find out how to make more money. The report concluded that since companies could squeeze little or no more work out of their adjusters and middle management employees and since the companies insisted on paying some of their senior management salaries in multi-millions, the only effective way to make more money was to deny more claims.
Following on after that conclusion, the McKenzie Report presented over 10,000 Power Point slides instructing the staffs of insurance companies how to delay, avoid and deny claims. The strategy involves delaying or obstructing the claim until the claimant simply gives up and takes a low ball offer rather than fight the insurance company.
Often the first line of insurance defense of a case is to get a claimant to give a recorded statement with the adjuster in which the adjuster uses special training to attempt to get the claimant to admit that he or she was in some way at fault when claimant was not.
Increasingly with harder economic times, insurance companies are succeeding in the unlawful and deceptive practice of lowballing claims. An unexpected emergency expense will often cause a claimant to accept an unfairly low offer just to be able to pay a bill.
When the insurance company digs in its heels, the only way for the claimant to get just compensation is to get a lawyer and fight the claim. The claimant needs to be able to "go the distance" because litigation takes some time, but interest usually runs on the judgment at 8% from the day the action is filed. It usually pays the claimant to be patient.
Civil trials are tame and the Plaintiff will be courteously treated by all at trial. One cannot predict with certainty what a jury will return as its verdict, but it is often more than an insurance company is willing to offer, sometimes a lot more.
This strategy only works if the attorney is willing and able to go to court. If the insurance company knows that it is dealing only with a "settlement mill" law firm where the attorney spends his efforts getting the claimant to take the amount offered instead of expending his or her energy preparing for and going to trial, the insurance company will not offer much.
According to Lumberton Trial Lawyer Woodberry "Woody" Bowen the way to keep insurance companies honest is to try the cases that should be tried. Experience from trying more than 1000 jury cases equip Bowen to keep trying for clients - trying cases, that is.