CNN reports on hard ball claims tactics in settlements.

While I'm not generally a fan of CNN, or most network reports on finance, insurance and legal matters, CNN did an 18 month investigation on casualty claims practices and the hard ball tactics that are used on even the smallest of claims.

It will come as no surprise to anyone in the claims or settlement business that there has been an ongoing, organized campaign by insurers to make the process of settling or litigating even the smallest casualty claim such an ordeal that people either drop the claim, don't file to begin with, or fight to such a degree that the message is sent to don't dare file claims in the future. In the words of University of Nevada insurance law professor Jeff Stempel, it amounts to calculated institutional bad faith.

You can access the article here, along with links to it's supporting stories and videos. It really is the first examination of it's kind by the media into the dirty secret of the claims and settlement community, which is that casualty companies have decided to force people to litigation, jury trials and in general make the process as slow and painful as possible so as to discourage claims filing of even legitimate claims.

One of the main reasons the settlement business is flat, is that fewer claims are being filed, fewer cases are being settled and there is a long term, institutionalized plan at work in the casualty business to make trial lawyers expend money and time on even their most legitimate cases. The "tort crisis" lie, led to misguided tort reform that had emboldened claims departments to the point where they now have such leverage in court they contest every case as a matter of policy, even when the evidence is clear that a claim is valid and damages are substantiated.

The pendulum will eventually swing back, and quite frankly the trial lawyers have only themselves to blame for ineffectively defending their role in the legal process and for the excesses of the mass tort cases that so turned off a lot of middle America. Regardless, this is a must read article and I encourage you to read it.

Posted on February 10, 2007 .