This blog proudly does not cover financial news, products, the economy, or things that sensible people actually need to read about. We avoid such because stuff like that is boring. But when the opportunity comes along to mix practical concerns, real news you can use, with voyeuristic horror stories, it's time to waste your Friday afternoon.
I'm an attorney and I work for insurance companies. People I know on occasion do ask me for advice about buying insurance and whether they need it for this or that. Apart from general rules about what sorts of limits to seek, I find that the best advice I can offer is on what companies not to do business with. (And no, I won't discuss that online.)
But the misleadingly named American Association for Justice (formerly and accurately named the Association of Trial Lawyers of America) has released its report on the ten worst insurance companies in America. They are, from the worst to still bad but not worst:
- State Farm
- Liberty Mutual
Some of these companies I've never heard of. A couple more I've gotten into bruising battles against for other insurers, fighting over coverage, or for normal-people clients seeking to establish coverage or to recover damages. And one or two I know very well indeed. So I'll not comment on any individual company, though I do disagree with some of the ratings.
But if taken with a grain of salt (this is an association of attorneys who make their living by suing the insurance companies and their customers), the report provides a valuable guide on what can go wrong, the worst case scenarios of poor treatment by insurance companies of their insureds, their shareholders, and the third parties who make claims against them.
Each entry contains literal horror stories, some of which you've probably heard of but not in such detail (Katrina and the California wildfires), and some of which you'll learn for the first time (the company that sells burial insurance with the same limits at a higher premium to black people, as though it costs more to bury a black man for five thousand dollars than it does to bury a white man for five thousand dollars; or one woman's struggle to get disability insurance benefits over years when all medical opinion stated she was disabled – this woman was an agent for the company).
Prepare yourself for some heavy outrage.
Via New York Personal Injury Law Blog, which is a great source of insight on the practice of representing injured plaintiffs.