The Insurance Industry and Individual Companies: Huge and Hugely Profitable
According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, the top ten automobile insurance companies accounted for about three-quarters of all auto insurance premiums across the nation, with your “Good Neighbor,” the Gecko, Flo, and “Good Hands” accounting alone for about $125 billion in business for 2018.
- State Farm -- $42 billion
- Geico -- $33.1 billion
- Progressive -- $27.1 billion
- Allstate -- $22.7 billion
- USAA -- $14.5 billion
- Liberty Mutual -- $11.8 billion
- Farmers -- $10.5 billion
- Nationwide -- $6.7 billion
- Travelers -- $4.7 billion
- American Family -- $4.7 billion
Why do the characters and taglines for so many of these automobile insurance companies sound so familiar? Simple – they have an enormous amount of money available to spend on advertising after collecting your monthly premiums than paying out as little as they can when claims are made. According to a U.S. Treasury Department report from 2019, the property and casualty insurance companies – of which auto insurance represents about half – had more than $68 billion in net income for 2018. They employ about 650,000 staff, including the “friendly” adjuster you just talked with on the phone about your injury claim. (Your insurance premiums making reptiles famous -- no, not this one.)Dealing with Auto Insurance Companies
So if you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of having to pursue a personal injury claim from an auto accident, consider that this is who you are going up against -- an industry with a larger annual GDP than the country of Sweden and twice as many troops as the U.S. Marines. Although you may only find yourself dealing directly with one or two “friendly” adjusters, these are kind of corporate and industry resources they have behind them. They have spent decades studying techniques for dealing with claimants, amassing data on how much (or how little) people will settle for in particular situations, and developing training programs for their claim handlers on how to “best” deal with the injury victims with whom they are speaking.
Many people don’t feel comfortable – wisely – taking on insurance companies with these kinds of resources, staff, and experience. Consider seeking advice from an experienced personal injury attorney who can help protect you against the tricks the insurers will try to play and the traps they will try to place in your path.Specific Trends
Although the major auto insurance companies have tended to handle injury claims similarly to one another, there are some specific trends that we have noticed in recent years:
- A particular gecko-oriented auto insurance company will frequently ignore or discount the amounts charged by an injury victim’s medical providers and instead replace those dollar amounts with “usual and customary” medical charges they claim to have discovered. Since these charges are (always) less than what the majority of doctor’s actual cost, this insurer tends to argue that injury claims submitted to them are worth proportionally less – even though the injury victim is still responsible for the full value of the doctor’s bill.
- This particular insurance company also has a tendency to lowball every claim submitted to them (and even deny many claims brought by individual injury victims who aren’t represented by a personal injury attorney) and only start dealing reasonably if a lawsuit is filed.
- Another California-based auto insurance company that happens to be named after the planet nearest our sun seems to have adopted a strategy in recent years of simply fighting every claim tooth-and-nail. It seems necessary to file suit in a larger percentage of cases against this insurer than almost any other. Their strategy of discouraging fair settlements by making injury victims fight as hard, long, and expensively as possible is obvious.
- And a couple other major insurance companies – with whom you thought you’d be in “good hands” with your “good neighbor” -- have adopted an especially frustrating tactic in handling certain types of larger uninsured motorist claims. Due to quirks in the law, it can actually be a bit harder to force your own insurance company – to whom you would make an uninsured motorist claim – to resolve these UM claims than it is to compel another person’s insurance company to resolve a direct liability claim. These two giants of the auto insurance industry now “slow play” all but the smallest of the uninsured motorist claims submitted to them.
If you’re presenting an injury claim to another driver’s insurance company – or even your own insurer – you may well have the deck stacked against. Don’t go it alone. Get advice from an experienced personal injury attorney.
For information on insurance company tactics in general or for our tools to deal with them see:
- Insurance Company Tactics: Dirty Tricks Insurance Companies Play in Accident Claims
- Our Tools: How an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney Deals with Insurance Company Tactics
- Types of Auto Coverage and Purpose of Coverage
Image by Nattanan Kanchanaprat from Pixabay
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