Departments of Insurance and insurance regulators should start keeping a Wrongful Claims Conduct Rap Sheet regarding insurance companies that mistreat policyholders. Insurance companies are never going to advertise or air their dirty claims handling tricks to the public. How do policyholders learn which insurance companies are good faith claims handlers versus those with a history of frustrating their customers when it comes time to service and pay claims? Why don’t the state departments of insurance make these complaints easier for the public and journalists to find?
We instantly started to receive responses in response to last Friday’s post, Frontline Insurance Bad Faith—Do You Want to Do Something About How Frontline Treats Policyholders? One response was from attorney Jaci Mattocks-Schirmer who sent me a pleading which is undoubtedly a 373-page Rap Sheet on Frontline Insurance Company. This lawsuit and pleading is strikingly similar to the one I published on Friday. It alleges in part:
14. Thereafter, appraisal was conducted, an Appraisal Award was issued on July 15, 2020, which was over 26 times the amount of money that was initially paid to the Plaintiff presuit. The award resulted in a judgment from Defendant in favor of the Plaintiff, thus ending the matter on the merits.
15. After the appraisal award was entered, Defendant still refused to properly calculate the deductible and continued to fight Plaintiff on a seemingly obvious issue.
17. Throughout this lawsuit it has become clear that Defendant’s mistreatment of Plaintiff is not an isolated or unique event. Indeed, Defendant’s actions were automatic and mechanical in nature. There was no doubt that Defendant had done this before. A deeper look revealed that this was a pattern and practice that was employed by Defendant for over a decade. During that entire timeframe Defendant was represented by one law firm. A review of case dockets from around the State of Florida evidence hundreds of instances where Defendant committed the same pattern and practice. A pattern of weaponizing the appraisal provision in the policy. See Excel Spreadsheet attached to Affidavit of Christopher Schirmer attached and incorporated herein as Exhibit A.
19. Shockingly, it became clear from the evidence that Defendant ramped up their bad faith strategy during catastrophic events, such as Hurricane Irma which occurred in September of 2017. For example, from January 2018 to December 2018 the number of cases that Defendant was sued on in Broward County was sixty-six (66). Defendant employed their strategy in fifty-nine (59) of those cases amounting to over eighty-nine percent (89%) of the cases that involved litigation. See Exhibit A.
20. Again, when Hurricane Michael struck Florida in October of 2018. A Bay County docket search revealed that between 2018 and 2019 there were eighty-four (84) lawsuits against Defendant. Defendant weaponized appraisal in fifty-nine (59) of those claims. Over seventy percent (70%) of the cases that involved litigation. See Exhibit A. 21. During Plaintiff’s search of public dockets, Plaintiff was able to find a very telling transcript from a lawsuit against Defendant in Broward County, in front of the honorable Judge John Bowman, in 2015 in which Defendant actually sued their own insured to force them into appraisal. Defendant admitted on the record to employing the same tactics alleged in this Motion.
I wonder what the statistics are about the number of appraisal awards that ended up with the policyholder getting more money from Frontline. If the insurer is really trying to act in good faith and accurately valuing the loss, one would think that about half the awards would be higher and half would be lower.
I would suggest that those interested in seeing the numerous complaints filed with the Department of Financial Services against Frontline and other alleged Frontline misdeeds read the affidavits. Frontline policyholders and public adjusters representing Frontline policyholders who have been delayed, denied, or underpaid may want to take these pleadings to attorneys and ask about their rights to file a bad faith lawsuit against Frontline. According to these lawsuits, Frontline’s actions are not just a mistake but a way of doing business.
As a reminder from last Friday’s post, if you are a policyholder, public adjuster, restoration contractor, or policyholder attorney who has been delayed, underpaid, or wrongfully denied a claim by Frontline, we can do something about it. All we have to do is share our information and stories. By sharing information, we can show how these practices are systemic and try to obtain change and redress. If you want to help, participate, or get information to help your own bad faith case, all you have to do is send an email to Merlin Law Group law librarian Ruck DeMinico. We will soon set up a virtual meeting site and method to help expose the wrongful claims practices by Frontline Insurance. Here is a link for Ruck. As you can see, others are doing so, and this information is very helpful and may help convince Frontline and other insurance companies to stop the wrongful claims behavior.
Not all insurance companies are bad actors. For policyholders who are looking for residential insurers who are good actors, there is one great residential insurance company that even calls out its competitors, as I noted in Chubb Calls Competitors Cheap And Unfair.I noted in Do Insurance Companies Compete Based Upon Claims Payments? More Thoughts About Steve Badger Being Rope-a-Doped:
From my experience and impression, I will state that AMICA stands out as a personal lines carrier that pays with their customer’s interest in mind. Chubb is a close second. Lexington Preferred is third.
Good carriers should not be subject to having bad actors ruin the entire property insurance claims adjusting industry. Bad-acting insurers need to be held accountable. We need laws and remedies which make bad actors play fairly and by the rules. Otherwise, those bad actors will not play by the rules.
Thought For The Day
Life is all about sharing. If we are good at something, pass it on. That is the pleasure I get from teaching – whether it is television or books. We should all share.