Recently in Insurance Category

North Carolina House Fire Victims Fight Insurance Bad Faith Claims

January 15, 2011

My client was asleep is bed with his wife, his two year old child just in the next room. The phone rang about 3 a.m. His wife's house which she inherited from her father was on fire an a neighboring town 30 minutes away. The house in North Carolina had recently been vacated by a renter. Much of the house was still furnished with the wife's family furniture, priceless photos and family keepsakes.

The insurance company was notified. A public adjuster hired by my clients surveyed the damage and helped my clients present their claim. The police investigated. No arson was found; yet, Farm Bureau Insurance Company denied the claim, maintaining that my clients (respectable professional people without records of wrongdoing) had committed arson. Too many insurance companies are currently denying legitimate house fire cases by using unfair and deceptive claims practices.

My clients had no financial difficulties or other reason to burn the house. They had been having trouble with the propane gas central HVAC and the licensed gas company had worked on it. The system seemed to be using more gas than would be expected given the size of the house, the weather, and the type of system.

Our gas expert was sure the house burned due to escaping propane. The copper gas pipe was passing from the propane tank outside through the brick masonry walls. Science has learned that the chemical in the mortar used in brick masonry will corrode copper and cause pin holes which allow gas to escape. There was a lighted pilot light in the gas log fireplace in the house which could easily have ignited the gas.

Farm Bureau got an expert and claimed the fire was set because residue of accelerant was found in the house.

At mediation we showed slides of family Christmas pictures which were taken in front of the fire place in the house. On the mantle behind the group picture one could clearly see scented oil lamps on either end of the mantle piece. Where did the insurance company's expert find accelerant? Right where the oil lamps full of oil would have fallen off the fireplace mantle as the fire burnt up the mantle piece.

The insurance adjusters claimed that they denied the claim because they had gotten some anonymous phone calls about the fire. Later a senior manager for Farm Bureau admitted that there were no such phone calls.

Ultimately we recovered the entire replacement value of the house and payment for some contents. If we had not aggressively pursued the claim, the insurance company would have paid nothing.

To read about how insurance companies avoid paying claims see www.farmbureaulies.com

North Carolina Lowball Insurance Offers in Accident Injury Claims

January 12, 2011

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:

Nationwide is not on your side.
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.


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Your New Buddy--the Insurance Adjuster

December 26, 2010

After your accident, are you really confused about whether to get a lawyer and if so, who?

So much depends on the lawyer you choose!

Does your new buddy, the, insurance adjuster, want to play "Let's make a deal"?

Radio host Mark Handle, Handle on the Law, recently remarked to a lady calling to inquire if she needed a lawyer: "Lady, do you know that the adjuster goes to the insurance company's school for hours just to learn how to get you to take too little for your case?"

Typical situation. You think the injuries aren't too bad. After all, it didn't even hurt much at the time you crashed. You may have even told the officer you were O.K. This is very normal. It is by that night that you really started to hurt, and by the next day you felt like you couldn't move! Not only are you sore but you have some tingling or numbness in your arms or legs or both. The adjuster has looked at your car and knows you took a pretty hard blow. (Did you know that your head moves from still to over 90 miles per hour in the split second after just a 5 mile per hour impact in a simple fender bender?)

The adjuster offers to pay your medical expenses up to a year and gives you a small lump sum besides. Why? He knows you're scared and probably need the money. He knows also that the numbness you are feeling may be an early symptom of serious disc problems in your back and/or neck, perhaps requiring surgery. He also knows that because of the expense and risks of surgery Doctors typically attempt more conservative approaches including chiropractic, physical therapy, injection therapy, massage and others. He knows, if you don't, that these alternatives often take a year or more before surgery remains the only option. And an expensive option it is, often tens of thousands of dollars for neurosurgery.

And who pays? You do. Remember the deal you made with the adjuster? After a year his company is off the hook. And you're on.

He has countless other tricks up his sleeve. Let's take your demolished car. Say it's a late model, well-kept, good car. Now its going under the wrench. It's serious work that will brand your car with salvage history if the repairs total over 25% of the value of the car. Locked in a database somewhere under your car's VIN number, that damage may come back to haunt you if you ever trade.

Often authorizing only used or "after market" parts, the adjuster will pay the repair bills, but will he pay you the fair value of the depreciation caused by the wreck, the diminished value to your car caused by his insured? No. Not unless he knows you will take him before a jury to get it.

You see, ours is an adversary legal system. This means you get only what you are willing to struggle and fight within the system to get. The insurance companies have swarms of lawyers well paid to protect their rights. Maybe that is why they only pay out around 42% of premiums the rest of us pay in.

If your car is totaled, the adjuster will offer you a price from a price book his company instructs him to use. Its prices are consistently lower than those in the widely accepted NADA book used by car dealers and banks.

Yet the adjuster will encourage you to go it alone. Don't, he's not on your side. His promotions and raises are based in part on how little he can get you and others like you to take for their cases.

Get a lawyer! And not just any lawyer, but an experienced courtroom veteran who knows how to persuade jurors the true value of your case, a lawyer who can get them to fill in the verdict sheet with an amount they would expect to receive for similar injuries.

Sign No Papers Until you have had your case fully evaluated by one of our experienced personal injury trial lawyers reviews you case.

Continue reading "Your New Buddy--the Insurance Adjuster" »

Insurance companies deny, delay, deny, delay . . .

December 26, 2010

Are you curious as to the tactics used by many insruance companies when handling your case. Denied claims led to he publication of an interesting website. Click it and see for yourself if any of the tactics described from the McKinsey Report seem familiar. Click www.farmbureaulies.com.

David & Goliath

November 30, 2010

In the Bible, David didn't go up against the giant Goliath without his trusty slingshot and the experience to use it. If you have a just claim for an accident on the road or at work we have a trusty slingshot. It's the Law. And after over 1000 jury trials over 35 years of practice we know how to use the Law to try to get you a just result in your case. Get on even footing with the Goliath insurance company. I'm Woody Bowen.

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Fighting For Premiums

November 30, 2010

Ever notice how insurance companies fight hard in ads on TV to make you their client and get your premiums? They're fighting just as hard to deny or delay your claim so you'll accept less than your claim is really worth. You've been the victim of an accident. Don't also become the victim of an insurance company's unfair claims practices.

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For You, Not Against You

November 30, 2010

Are you or a loved hurt from a car wreck that wasn't your fault? You'd better know your rights fast-because the folks at the insurance company sure know theirs. The slogan at some insurance companies ought to be "when there's a claim then you're to blame".

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Insurance Company Unfairness

November 30, 2010

In your accident case if you feel you've been fair and just with your claims but the insurance company hasn't, you probably need our help. 35 years of trial experience has given us the savvy to anticipate the ways in which some insurance companies systematically deny or delay just claims to make more money-- at accident victims' expense. Even the odds, balance the scales. I'm Woody Bowen. You should be justly and promptly compensated and that's our stand.

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The Ultimate Jury Question

November 30, 2010

When the car wreck case goes to trial the ultimate damages question for the jury is this: What amount would a reasonable person who is an innocent victim of an accident expect to be paid to endure the medical costs, the pain, the lost pay and benefits from work, and the disability which the plaintiff in the case had to endure? Has the adjuster offered you a just amount for a just claim in your case?

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We Work For You

November 30, 2010

Are you an innocent accident victim? And let me guess: the insurance adjuster wants you to give a recorded statement? Don't! Not until you know your rights and know how that insurance company intends to use that statement.

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Where Is Your Case Going?

November 29, 2010

The adjuster in your case knows where he or she is going in your case. Do you? The insurance company will likely delay or even unjustly deny your claim because they know that if they can stall long enough you'll get desperate and accept that little settlement they are offering. Settling claims on the cheap is how they make money for stockholders and bonuses and promotions for themselves. Find out where your case is going if you don't get help.

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