Car Accident Insurance Claims Complaints in Washington 2014-16

The insurance commissioner's office investigates consumer and policy-holder complaints against insurance companies. When appropriate the OIC can impose fines, order reimbursement payments, or take other actions.  Each year thousands of people file automobile collision insurance-related complaints.  Below is recent complaint-related data for the top car insurance companies in Washington State.  

  1. State Farm - 654
  2. Farmers - 217
  3. Safeco - 117
  4. Pemco - 123
  5. Geico - 628
  6. Allstate - 383
  7. USAA - 242
  8. Progressive - 438
  9. Mutual of Enumclaw - 50

Source: Private Passenger Auto Insurance Company Complaints, Insurance Commissioner of Washington State

If you have a problem with an insurance company the Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC) of Washington State can investigate the circumstances to make sure that the insurance company followed Washington state insurance laws and the terms of your policy.  When a complaint is filed the OIC can require the insurance company to explain its actions.  

Types of Consumer Auto Insurance Complaints In Washington 

  • Claim Delay: Insurance company has unreasonably delayed the investigation and/or processing of a claim.
  • Delayed Payment: Insurer failed promptly pay claim.
  • Claim Denial: Improper denial the claim.
  • Claims Fraud: A claim-related deception or unfair practice to avoid payment.
  • Contributory/Comparative Negligence: Unfair or false assessment of negligence, fault or application contributory negligence laws.
  • Adjuster Problems: Claims adjuster handles the claim unsatisfactorily.
  • Misrepresentation: Insurance company or its representative made misleading or untrue statements about the policy’s terms, benefits, or about insurance during the marketing/sales process.
  • Unfair Settlement/Offer: Insurer's settlement offer was less than expected.
  • Pre-Existing Condition Denial: Insurance company improperly denied a claim based on a pre-existing condition.
  • Medical Necessity Denial: Insurer improperly denied coverage by saying treatment was medically unnecessary.
  • Usual, Customary & Reasonable (UCR) Charges: Insurance company's "usual, customary and reasonable" reimbursement amounts are inadequate.
  • Subrogation: Improper subrogation activity by insurer.

Devalued: Insurance Company Low-Ball Settlement Offers

unfair settlement offer from insurance companyMany insurance companies try to save money by making unfair, extremely small settlement offers to claimants. Insurance companies will make low-ball offers to their own policyholders as well, even though these people are their own paying customers. The goal is to frustrate people with the difficulty of the claims process and pressure them into accepting a much lower settlement than they are legally entitled to. 

If you believe you have received a low-ball settlement offer, it may be because the insurance company hopes you will grow frustrated and settle the case at a lower value. It may be in your best interests to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer to determine if the offer is fair, or if the attorney believes you may be able to recover more money by hiring them. 

Denied: Disputed Liability In Injury Claims

Insurance companies will often claim that their insured is not at fault for the accident or is only partially at-fault in an attempt to completely avoid responsibility for a claim, or at least to reduce their financial responsibility. If there is a liablity dispute about who is at fault in a car accident case, it is important to gather evidence to prove who was actually at fault. This includes police reports, accident scene photos, witness statements, expert opinions, and more. 

Collecting and preserving physical evidence to support your personal injury case can be difficult to do, especially if several months or years have passed since the accident. Our personal injury attorneys have the necessary experience and resources in order to conduct a full investigation of the case and quickly begin to collect any relevant evidence that may support the case and increase the chances of a successful outcome.

Dollars: Insurance Industry Puts Profits Before People

The insurance industry is making huge profits. The U.S. insurance industry takes in over $1 trillion in premiums annually. The industry also has an estimated $3.8 trillion in assets, more than the Gross Domestic Products of all but two countries in the world (United States and Japan).

Over the last 10 years, the property/casualty insurance industry has enjoyed average profits of over $30 billion a year. The life and health side of the insurance industry has averaged another $30 billion.

The CEOs of the top 10 property/casualty insurance companies earned an average $8.9 million in 2007.

Top Auto Insurance Companies in Washington State

According to the State of Washington Office of Insurance Commissioner's office these are the 10 largest auto insurance companies in Washington State (by market share).

  1. State Farm - 13.1%
  2. Farmers - 9.6%
  3. Safeco - 6.3%
  4. Pemco - 4.0%
  5. Geico - 3.5%
  6. Allstate - 3.4%
  7. USAA - 3.0%
  8. Allstate (Property & Casualty) - 2.6%
  9. Progressive - 2.5%
  10. Mutual of Enumclaw - 2.4%

Ten Worst Insurance Companies

To identify the worst insurance companies for consumers, researchers at the American Association for Justice (AAJ) undertook a comprehensive investigation. The final list includes companies across a range of different insurance fields, including homeowners and auto insurers, health insurers, life insurers, and disability insurers.

  1. Allstate
  2. Unum
  3. AIG
  4. State Farm
  5. Conseco
  6. WellPoint
  7. Farmers
  8. UnitedHealth
  9. Torchmark
  10. Liberty Mutual

If you have a problem with an insurance company the Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC) of Washington State can investigate the circumstances to make sure that the company followed Washington state insurance laws and the terms of your policy.  When a complaint is filed the OIC can require the company to explain its actions.  

Allstate Insurance - Good Hands or Boxing Gloves?

Allstate’s confrontational attitude towards its own policyholders is legendary. Allstate focuses on reducing the amount of money it pays in claims, whether or not they were valid. When it adopted these recommendations, Allstate made a deliberate decision to start putting profits over policyholders.

The company essentially uses a combination of lowball offers and hardball litigation. It routinely offers claimants less than their case is worth. Those that accept the low-balled settlements are treated with “good hands” but may be left with less money than they need to cover medical bills and lost wages. If the claimant rejects the lowball offer and files a lawsuit Allstate will spend more than the claim is worth to fight it it discourage others from filing suit.

Former Allstate adjusters say they were rewarded for keeping claims payments low, even if they had to deceive their customers.

State Farm - Good Hands or Boxing Gloves?

Like Allstate, State Farm used consulting giant McKinsey & Co. The McKinsey concept involves cutting spending on claims payments to boost profits. Agents steeped in the McKinsey way speak of the “three D’s”— Deny the claim, Delay the payment, and then do anything they can to Defend against a lawsuit.

While State Farm will do anything to fight a claim once it has been taken to court, the company has never been shy about using the courts to its own advantage, even when it has to first stack the deck.

GEICO Insurance - Unethical Claims Handling

GEICO Insurance has faced numerous individual and class action lawsuits alleging unfair claims handling practices which include:

  • Deliberately and fraudulently portraying drivers as responsible for accidents caused by their insured.
  • Assigning drivers to a high-risk status to keep customers from switching to other insurance carriers (which may not accept “high-risk” drivers).
  • Using software that reduces claim values or denies claims without any reasonable basis or justification.
  • Doesn't make reasonable payment for medical treatment, but instead automatically sets a maximum payout at 80% of the medical bills.
  • Automatically denying claims for certain types of medical treatment if that treatment takes place eight weeks after the date of incident.

AIG Insurance - Claims Handling Abuse

The world’s biggest insurer, AIG has a long history of claims-handling abuses for both individuals and business clients. AIG has long had a reputation for claims-handling abuses. Former AIG claims supervisors have alleged in litigation that the company used all manner of tricks to deny or delay claims, including locking checks in a safe until claimants complained, delaying payment of attorney fees until they were a year old, disposing of important correspondence, and routinely fighting claimants for years in court over small mundane claims.

AIG is not alone in using strategies such as deny-delay-defend to enhance its bottom line at their customers’ expense. What sets AIG apart, however, is the way it has so callously sought to take advantage of its policyholders’ misfortunes.

Unsurance: The Ugly Truth about Unethical Business Practices in the U.S. Insurance Industry

In an effort to expose and better explain the unethical business practices that plague the U.S. insurance industry, attorney Chris Davis wrote Unsurance: The Ugly Truth about Unethical Business Practices in the U.S. Insurance Industry.  This report highlights some of the disturbing business strategies employed by these companies.

"I wrote Unsurance because there is no such thing as a 'good neighbor' who is 'on your side' with 'good hands' holding an 'umbrella' that will keep you and your pet gecko dry when mayhem strikes. Unfortunately, you'll have to take 'responsibility' for yourself—which also means that you may have to hire a lawyer. I think that people deserve to know the truth about the insurance industry and how it works."   - Chris Davis, Attorney at Law

Click here to download a FREE pdf copy of this report.

Chris Davis
Award-winning personal injury attorney and founder of Davis Law Group, P.S. in Seattle, Washington.