Approve R-67

Your want to see something really scary this Halloween? Go read Postman’s fisking of the Reject campaign’s claim that this ad is deceptive. Ethel Adams was seriously injured as an innocent bystander in a road rage incident, and Farmers (which has already contributed over $1.5 million to the Reject campaign,) denied her claim, saying it was technically not an “accident.” The bastards only paid up after Danny Westneat publicly humiliated them, and state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler threatened to pull their license.

But, you know, those damn trial lawyers and all that, right?

Comments

  1. 1

    rhp6033 spews:

    You know all those stories of “outrageous awards” you hear about in the media from time to time? The ones that start coming out shortly before the insurance industry starts another one of the “tort reform” campaigns? In almost all of those cases, the insurance company is “spinning” the story so it is barely recognizable to the actual events. Often the plaintiff in the case is barred from publicizing the actual events because they had ultimately been paid a settlement in return for which they promised not to discuss the settlement or the details of their case.

    You should always be very suspicious whenever you hear that someone “won a settlement”. It means the insurance company decided that there was a sufficient risk of liability that they decided to pay a compromised amount in order to close the case. That is not a “win”, nor did some jury get bamboozled by a sharp attorney. It is the insurance company making a business decision, because the judge or jury is likely to award even a larger amount, once they hear all the evidence. But the ads the insurance company presents certainly does not include all the evidence, only a carefully misleading story designed to promote call-ins on talk radio.

    The current insurance industry campaigns are attempting to stir up hatred of lawyers, the threat of increased premiums, or “frivolous lawsuits” to defeat this initiative. But what this initiative is designed to do is to prevent “frivilous defenses”, for which there is currently no effective remedy.

    As has been mentioned on this board before, personal injury lawyers have no financial motivation for taking on a frivilous claim. The hundreds of man-hours and thousands of dollars in costs (sometimes tens of thousands of dollars) are prohibitive, unless the lawyers are very sure that there is a good probability that they will prevail at trial. It is the insurance companies that have an incentive to press frivilous defenses in order to delay paying on a claim as long as possible, collecting interest on the money and wearing the claimant down until they will finally accept a fraction of the total value of their claim on the day of trial.

  2. 2

    rhp6033 spews:

    Personally, I’ve seen the insurance industry at work, from both sides. The number of frivolous defenses, or de minimus settlement offers on clear liability cases, approach 90%, with no realistic numbers being offered until shortly before trial. The most refreshing statement I heard from an insurance industry defense lawyer was when he simply said “Hell, I don’t know how much this case is worth, I’m just going to let the jury decide”. At least he had a valid reason for going to trial, and I respected him for that.

    What determines whether an insurance company pays quickly on large claims? It depends on how new the claims manager is to the position. He can clear out a lot of old claims quickly by ordering them settled, and blaming the prior claims manager for “clogging up the claims department with bad cases”. Then he can delay paying big claims for the next three years, so that his four-year history makes it look like he is making a big profit. Then he changes jobs (promoted, moves to another company, etc.) based on those “great” numbers. Then the process starts all over again.

  3. 3

    chadt spews:

    Insurance companies are like sewers: Necessary, but frequently disgusting.

    Let no-one forget that Safeco left lots of people homeless over trivialities…because they could.

    My autos are insured with Farmers, and I am simply PISSED that they’ve spent millions on this local campaign to be able to deny claims with impunity. Would that I could find a decent company, but how to know?

  4. 4

    SeattleJew spews:

    I expect Roger Rabbit will Dump on This, BUT ….

    A pox on every one’s houses. The insurance companies suck and the lawyers too.

    The idea that one needs to hire a $300/hr goon to shake up the Mafia to pay its protection money is sick!

    Hell, as I remember my days in Boston, the Mafia DID honor its commitments. Of course who in hell could afford a goon to go after Joe Tecci (Boston’s Mafia Boss then)? Anybody ever nhere of a Mafia sponsored book that did NOT pay off? Who would you trust .. a bookie or an insurance agent?

    If we had a god damn functional legal system, the friggin state would sue the assess of off abusive companies until the self satisfied managerial classniks figgered out that it was in their interest to play fair.

    Legislating by referring everything to the civil courts is EXPENSIVE. Ever talk to a shyster lawyer about this? You get a whole lot of sanctimonious cow turd soup (much less impressive than bull shit consome?) about how THEY make the system work! Yeh?? I make a reasonable middle class income. More than once, faced with a legal issue involving someone bigger than me, my attny has counseled to back off because they will outspend me in court. BTW, one of those making this threat was the State of Washington, under AG Gregoire. As some may know, I have a distaste for our governor and this is a (past) reason. BTW, the State backed of when, with the help of a friend at the Seattle Times, I managed to leak a version of the story to UW administrators. The number of dollars I was threatened with, in a situation where I would ultimately have won, was in the 100s of thousands of dollars. This sort of behavior, whether by the State or any $$ rich party, makes Tony Soprano’s knee capping sum buddy look benign.

    My opinion on this matter also poisons my feeligns toward John Edwards. I know he made a lot of $$ by helping a lot of poor people. As much as I like the sentiments of Mr. Edwards, this way of making $$ does bother me. If Edwards is sincere about supporting Jane and John Everyperson, then I would like to see him propose meaningful reform to equalize the playing field. BTW, I really get ticked when a lawyer used baseball or football terms as if the legal system were a damn game … you know like baseball? How much is A Rod asking for his services?

    I will defer to others who know loads more than SJ about the law, but some thoughts about ways to make things at least somewhat better:

    a. expand the scope of small claims court.
    b. guarantee legal representation to the challenged side in any law suit. If BillyG sues, he ought not to be able to bankrupt me just cuz he controls Bogle and Gates.
    c. For insurance companies, create review boards that have teeth. Hell, if a cop roughs up some poor soul, we review that. If a friggin insurance company does the same thing? Good luck if you ain’t rich.
    d. tax the civil court attorney’s fees and use the tax to equalize the playing field. You wanna hire Clarence Darrow for 2 grand/hr? Fine. And we will collect $500 of that to subsidize the legal costs of your victim target poor shumck opponent.

  5. 5

    proud leftist spews:

    I never thought I would be able to agree with Dale Foreman on anything political (he was one of Rossi’s lead lawyers in that gubernatorial litigation with which we’re all familiar), but all I can say to this piece is amen:

    wenatcheeworld.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071024/OP03/710240041/-1/OP

  6. 6

    I Try My Best To Be Just LIke I Am spews:

    #3

    I have practiced personal injury law since I left the prosecutor’s office 26 years ago. Initially I was an insurance defense attorney but gradually shifted over to representing injuried plaintiffs. The real bad insurers are Allstate, Farmers, State Farm and Progressive. Twenty years ago Safeco was on the top of the bad insurer list but they gradually mended their ways until about three years ago. Since then they have returned to their old form. In a pro bono case involving a young woman who inhaled toxic fumes in a premise owned by a Safeco insured, Safeco’s in house counsel represented that their insured had no “no fault” medical pay coverage to help pay the young women’s medical bills. Later when I obtained a certified copy of the Safeco insurance policy I discovered there was “no fault” coverage. In addition Safeco’s in house counsel denied they had evidence which in fact later digging disclosed they did. Safeco was fined $2000 by the trial judge for their dishonesty.

    Most of the other insurers fall somewhere in the middle. Two insurers with whom I have had several disagreements with over the years, but who have always been straight shooters, are Pemco and Grange.

    Insurance companies are not inherently

  7. 7

    I Try My Best To Be Just LIke I Am spews:

    6 last post,

    Insurance companies are not inherently bad. It’s a tough business, and they have a right to protect themselves. However that is no excuse for dishonesty.

  8. 8

    proud leftist spews:

    The insurance industry has thrown over $11,000,000 at R67, so far. Yet, its spokesperson is Dana Childers. I would think the industry could spend a few more bucks to hire someone who knew what the hell she was talking about, or at least came off like she did, or was at least articulate. I guess, however, the insurance industry hires employees like it handles claims–always go cheap.

  9. 9

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Yes on 67! This initiative will cost policyholders nothing if insurance companies simply deliver the coverage they promised in the policies their customers pay premiums for.

    And if insurance companies can’t deal with their customers honestly, then policyholders shouldn’t pay for it, the penalties should be taken out of the CEO’s salary and/or the shareholders should eat it.

  10. 10

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @3 “Would that I could find a decent company, but how to know?”

    My lawyer, who does both plaintiff’s and defense work, says he buys the cheapest insurance he can find because “all insurance companies are bastards.”

  11. 11

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Jury Awards $11 Million for Emotional Distress!!!

    That’s right! A federal jury today awarded $11 million to a man who suffered no property loss and was not physically injured for EMOTIONAL DISTRESS!!!

    Specifically, the jury award breaks down into $2.9 million in compensatory damages, $6 million in punitive damages for invasion of privacy, and $2 million for emotional distress.

    All the defendants did was make some noise in the vicinity of a funeral.

    “Jury Awards Father $11M in Funeral Case
    “By ALEX DOMINGUEZ,AP

    “BALTIMORE (AP) – A grieving father won a nearly $11 million verdict Wednesday against a fundamentalist Kansas church that pickets military funerals out of a belief that the war in Iraq is a punishment for the nation’s tolerance of homosexuality.

    “Albert Snyder of York, Pa., sued the Westboro Baptist Church for unspecified damages after members demonstrated at the March 2006 funeral of his son, Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, who was killed in Iraq. …

    “The defense said it planned to appeal, and one of the church’s leaders … said the members would continue to picket military funerals. …

    “Church members routinely picket funerals of military personnel killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, carrying signs such as ‘Thank God for dead soldiers’ and ‘God hates fags.’ Snyder claimed the protests intruded upon what should have been a private ceremony and sullied his memory of the event.”

    Quoted under fair use; for complete story and/or copyright info see http://news.aol.com/story/_a/j.....0309990005

    Roger Rabbit Commentary: Next up on the Frivolous Lawsuit Docket: The Democratic Party sues these bastards for trade name infringement.

  12. 12

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    This may not put them out of business, but it sure as hell will leave them without a church building. They’ll have to hold their services on park benches from now on.

    The strategy of using lawsuits to crush hate groups was pioneered by Morris Dees of the Southern Law Poverty Center, who cleaned Richard Butler’s clock in court after two of Butler’s neo-Nazi thugs shot up a mother and her son’s car for straying too close to the Aryan Nations compound near Hayden Lake, Idaho. The victims ending up not only the compound (which is now a “peace park”) but also the intellectual property rights to the names “Aryan Nations” and “Church of Jesus Christ Christian.”

    The message is this: Those who promote hate in ways that infringe on the legal rights of others will end up not only marginalized and powerless but also penniless. And without money, they can’t take their traveling circus on the road, print and distribute hate literature, or operate web sites. Good riddance.

  13. 13

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @4 Why would I dump on you for saying our legal system is dysfunctional? Do you think after 30 years of being a lawyer I disagree with you? Mr. Magoo figured it out long ago. He said, “The law, sir, is an ass.”

  14. 14

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    As for the Mafia paying its book, I’d like to see Mark welsh on the mob, then we’d be rid of him.

  15. 15

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @4 (continued)

    a. You can file claims up to $4,000 in small claims court. There are some problems with making it higher. SCC is informal with a minimum of due process requirements and no right to be represented by a lawyer. Do you really want to be forced to represent yourself if someone sues you for $10,000?

    b. We provide public defenders to poor criminal defendants because due process requires it, and to prevent miscarriages of justice that could result in wrongful imprisonment or execution. In civil cases, where less is at stake, we don’t. If you think government should provide civil defenders to people who can’t afford lawyers, be prepared to pay higher taxes for it. Is it unfair that some rich bastard who gets a hate for me can sic high-priced lawyers on me? Yeah, but …

    … the whole fucking world is unfair!
    … high-priced lawyers aren’t necessarily better than the regular kind, see Rossi election challenge.
    … we’ve done a decent job of keeping our legal system fair to the little guy; for example, Washington is among the states that have enacted anti-SLAPP laws to make it illegal (and expensive) for developers, large companies, and other monied interests to intimidate citizens from exercising their free speech rights by filing lawsuits against them in order to bankrupt them with legal bills.

    c. We already have an elected insurance commissioner with regulatory and licensing powers, and you have the opportunity to vote “yes” on R-67; why do you need more than that?

    d. That, my friend, is flatly unconstitutional.

  16. 16

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @6 “Twenty years ago Safeco was on the top of the bad insurer list but they gradually mended their ways until about three years ago. Since then they have returned to their old form.”

    Interestingly, that timeframe overlaps McGavick’s CEO tenure there. Now you know why their board considered him with the $28 million severance package they gifted to him.

  17. 17

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @6 “Insurance companies are not inherently bad. It’s a tough business, and they have a right to protect themselves. However that is no excuse for dishonesty.”

    Insurance companies are a business, period. It all depends on who’s running the business and what their business philosophy is. Some businesses deliver great customer service because they’re owned or run by people who believe customer service is what makes a company succeed or fail. Others bottom line everything because they’re run by people who see only the bottom line, or whose promotion or bonuses or jobs depend on maximizing profit.

    I’ve been observing American culture and business for over half a century now, and most people in the business world are now younger than me. I’ve seen things change quite a bit over that span of years and generations. Greed and dishonesty are part of human nature and have always been with us. I think many people have a much short vision horizon now; instead of investing for the long-term they focus on this quarter’s results and today’s P/E ratio, and no one thinks about a lifetime career with the company anymore because there aren’t any. Here today, gone tomorrow. The company, I mean. I don’t think our society is necessarily more materialistic than it’s always been, but I think the business models have changed. Now, it’s make a buck today because there’s no tomorrow.

    But the thing that has changed more dramatically than anything else is the profusion of remedies available to those who have been screwed by a business. I remember a time when, if cars driven by a husband and wife, or a parent and child, collided at an intersection, none of them could collect under any of their policies because the law barred family members from suing each other. I remember when we didn’t have consumer protection laws, class action suits, and so on, in the profusion that exists today. Business complains that lawsuits have taken a lot of products off the market and that’s true but many of those products were dangerous and we’re better off without them. In the old days it was “caveat emptor” and if you broke your neck on a swing set because it was assembled with faulty bolts it was tough beans.

    It’s not very meaningful to talk about XYZ Insurance Company 20 years ago because the managers and staff are all different now, probably younger, trained in different business schools, have different attitudes and business philosophies … an insurance company is nothing but an office building full of people. The people ARE the company, and when the faces change, so does the company. After a time, it’s a completely different company because all the people are different.

    Insurance is a funny kind of business. We buy a product we hope to never use. The only way to find out what their claims service is like is to be unfortunate enough to have a claim. It’s next to impossible to shop for insurance on that basis. Someone you know may have had an acceptable claims experience with XYZ Company, but by the time you have a claim, that adjuster has left and Mr. Sleaze is your adjuster. Insurance companies aren’t like the State Department, they have turnover. Not as rapid turnover as real estate brokerages, but enough that you can’t extrapolate anything from someone else’s claim experience.

    I think what you have today is young people working in the cubicles supervised by thirty-something and forty-something managers who are under pressure to show good numbers and they’re going to do whatever the law allows — or doesn’t penalize — to suppress claims payouts. Customer service be damned; by next year the company will have changed its name and logo anyway, and “XYZ Company” won’t exist anymore and few people will remember that “ABC Company” is the former “XYZ Company.”

  18. 18

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Many years ago, about 25 or so, a truck belonging to a local business rear-ended me. The driver, a young yahoo type, had been tailgating me and hit me when I applied my brakes to stop for a light that had just changed to red. The body shop estimate was $900; this was a used car I paid $1600 for. The insurer was Zurich American and they didn’t want to pay. They made absurd claims, such as the truck driver claimed I slammed on my brakes to cause the accident. (Why would I do that?) After a year of unreturned phone calls to the adjuster, hemming and hawing, and nonpayment, I filed a formal complaint with the insurance commissioner’s office in Olympia. It took several months more for their wheels to turn, but when the bureaucrats finally did get after Zurich American, they paid up. It took almost two years to get that low-dollar-value, non-injury, fender-bender settled because the insurance company had no incentive to settle it and every reason in the world to stall, stonewall, deny, delay, and drag it out.

    That’s why we need R-67. Human nature is what it is, and never changes. When people have incentives to behave badly, and no incentive to do the right thing, in the business world a lot of people will behave badly. Not all, but many will, because in our cutthroat business culture you don’t survive much less get ahead by playing nice. There have to be incentives for doing the right thing, and disincentives for doing the wrong thing. R-67 fills that gap. Passing R-67 will make insurance companies behave better when they do business in Washington State.

  19. 19

    spews:

    a. expand the scope of small claims court.

    RR: a. You can file claims up to $4,000 in small claims court. There are some problems with making it higher. SCC is informal with a minimum of due process requirements and no right to be represented by a lawyer. Do you really want to be forced to represent yourself if someone sues you for $10,000?

    Roger … I actually was a bit careful in my wording. Scope is NOT just money. It seesm to me there are a number of issues where corporate america acts like goos where there are issues that are not necessarily measurable in dollars.

    b. guarantee legal representation to the challenged side in any law suit. If BillyG sues, he ought not to be able to bankrupt me just cuz he controls Bogle and Gates.

    RR b. We provide public defenders to poor criminal defendants because due process requires it, and to prevent miscarriages of justice that could result in wrongful imprisonment or execution. In civil cases, where less is at stake, we don’t. If you think government should provide civil defenders to people who can’t afford lawyers, be prepared to pay higher taxes for it. Is it unfair that some rich bastard who gets a hate for me can sic high-priced lawyers on me? Yeah, but …

    I was NOT talking about the criminal system (though I do have an issue there). Part of the concept I called scope is to take advantage of the fact that Paul Allen’s personal time costs him a lot more than my time costs me. For example, suppose Boeing threatens a non Union employee with not being promoted if she does not contribute to the community chest. Hiring an attorney to contest such a thing would be prohibitive, BUT it would be equally prohibitive to Beoing if a high level executive was required w/o legal asistance ot bge present for a trial. I may not have the example right but as of now the individual has ncreasingly less power over such issues.

    c. For insurance companies, create review boards that have teeth. Hell, if a cop roughs up some poor soul, we review that. If a friggin insurance company does the same thing? Good luck if you ain’t rich.

    Roger: I think the post from another attorney did a good job here. I am unimpressed that electing someone .. given our system … is a guarantee of forcefullness. An insurance court???

    BTW .. your arguement vs. high priced attorneys being of vlaue missed the point. As you well know the shyster’s fees are only a part of the cost. The bottom line is that individuals are continually losing power in our society because of the primacy of money in our courts.

    d. tax the civil court attorney’s fees and use the tax to equalize the playing field. You wanna hire Clarence Darrow for 2 grand/hr? Fine. And we will collect $500 of that to subsidize the legal costs of your victim target poor shumck opponent.

    RR flatly unconstitutional.

    Roger: why? how? If this does not work, then surely there must be some way to charge more for those willing to pay more for the legal process.

    BTW: I do not see this idea as limited to civil suits based on damages. I can imagine a system whereby parents might sue the S of W in re the unconstitionality of the failure to support K-12.

    Is this outlandish? How is it MORE outlandish than the frggin initiative system? Going back to my example of the state and schools, how come we can for a relatively few dollars have an initiative to teach kids that the great pumpkin created the geoduck but .. in order to sue the effin state to enforce the constitution I would need to raise millions of dollars for attorneys?

    BTW .. if RR and I are on the same side, Harvey tell me I need to worry about the onset of old age. I told him, nahh!!! Unfortunately Harvey is convinced you are not rabbit. I told him I met you at DL and saw the ears and cute little tail, everything tells me you are a hare. … but … you know how skeptical Wookies are.

  20. 20

    chadt spews:

    Well, in the campaign against R67, you can see that the insurance companies can’t very well admit that this provision is there by necessity, although most of us see that quite clearly, so they dig up those “rotten trial lawyers” to explain why it’s on the ballot.And people use florid and evasive language to justify that claim.

    I guess the amount of money the industry has spent to defeat the measure speaks to the amount they figure they’ll lose by being decent. That, alone, should be enough to convince thinking people.

  21. 21

    proud leftist spews:

    SJ @ 4
    You’re a bright guy, but a bit naive when it comes to your proposed remedies for the legal system.
    a) Small claims court is essentially a joke, with bored judges who rush the process and ignore due process. In theory, small claims court is great. In practice, it ain’t pretty.
    b) I would agree with this proposal, but try to sell it to a public that would have to pay for it. After all the lawyer-bashing that we see on the airwaves (which is really why the insurance industry has thrown $11,000,000 at R-67–to influence jury pools against plaintiffs), we’re not going to see this proposal fly.
    c) An essential component of the Magna Carta, back in the 1200s, was the right to trial by jury. The Seventh Amendment to our Constitution provides for the right to trial by jury. Boards are horseshit, easily influenced and purchased. The only way to get an insurance company’s attention is to make it pay–hit it with a big verdict. Contemporary juries tend to be conservative given all the nonsense they’ve been exposed to with regard to “frivolous lawsuits” and the like, but exposure to big verdicts is the only consideration that keeps insurance companies even mildly mindful of their responsibilities.
    d) Do you believe in the market at all? Your proposal would simply mean that insurance companies, that already hold most of the cards, would never face able opposition. You start imposing huge taxes on plaintiffs’ lawyers to “even the playing field” and corporate America and the insurance industry start dancing in the streets. The odds are already stacked overwhelmingly against plaintiffs in our legal system; taking incentives away from those who would represent them means the powerful win again.
    Sorry, you are quite wrong on this one.

  22. 22

    proud leftist spews:

    chadt @ 20
    As I mentioned in my post above, much of the incentive for the insurance industry to throw all the money it has thrown at R-67 isn’t necessarily to defeat it–it is to poison the jury pool. The industry gets to run ads every ten minutes about “frivolous lawsuits” and “greedy trial lawyers.” These terms become part of our cultural lexicon to the point that even good liberals automatically distrust anyone who brings a lawsuit seeking damages. So, even if the insurers lose on R-67, they win in the big picture. If anyone wants to know who holds the cards on this issue, just look at the financing–I believe the insurance industry has outspent the pro-R-67 people by about 5 to 1.

  23. 23

    spews:

    To SeattleJew, re: point c. If you really believe police review boards are objective and actually use any teeth they may have to deal with police over use of force, there is NO argument which will convince you about the inherent unfairness praticed by insurance companies.

  24. 24

    FricknFrack spews:

    @3 chadt says: “. . . Would that I could find a decent company, but how to know? ”

    Might check out PEMCO. Might pay more, not sure about that, but they’re the only one I want personally (have Car/Home/Life, used to have Renters until 1998). It’s the only insurance I’ve had since 1975 (the 1st year was a group plan subsidiary of theirs and when that went away PEMCO absorbed us all). They’re kind of picky, dumped my former boss because he got too many speeding tickets, but whenever I’ve had the rare claim they’ve treated fair & friendly. Granted, I have a dispute going on at the moment but still not feeling treated particularly unfairly, PEMCO’s been offering advice and names of quality contractors to help me with the mess. Shockingly, it’s the first time I’ve ever had any problem with them paying.

    Once, back in 1986, with a brand new truck plus home theft, the PEMCO agent called to say that he noticed I had declared a gallon jug of coins missing. Asked if I was sure of the amount I guessed it was worth? Was it all pennies, cause he himself had cashed in a Skippy’s peanut butter jar of dimes and it was worth a whole lot more, so he wasn’t sure I was suggesting fair value (I had estimated perhaps $10). Think he gave about $30-40 dollars for that jar in the end. Replaced the truck in less than a month because it was Memorial Day weekend and they didn’t want to leave us without a vehicle any longer than necessary, then paid us travel costs to go collect the stolen truck canopy in another county when that was recovered.

    Last time I looked, PEMCO was NOT one of the insurance companies buying into this R-67 blitz, since they typically pay fairly. I think, though, they mostly handle customers here in WA. So when there’s hurricanes in Louisiana, Alabama or Florida they don’t raise their rates or say they’re doing so in order to gouge. My Sis in Phx keeps screaming that’s what she’s being told by her insurance company (one of those bigtime Anti-67 scammer companies), but she can’t buy PEMCO in her state, unfortunately.

  25. 26

    spews:

    @21 proud leftist and @ 23 Mark

    Can boards work .. I think they do sometimes, it depends on who their bosses are. The FCC used to do a good job.

    I am NOT opposed to I67 .. will vote for it, BUT I do not see this as the answer as long as the cost of lawyer services is prohibitive. I am suggesting soething in addition to I67 that wouold make it a lot easier for the common person to take action against the biggies .. including insurance companies ANF law firms.

    I understand that small claims courts are a joke. i think they could be a lot more useful.

    The costs of fair representation do not worry me. As I said, I believe it could be borne out of a tax on big time legal fees.

    The effin Magna Carta was intended to protect the privileged, I am talking about something far more egalitarian!

    I utterly fail to see how my proposal hurts the free market. Quite the opposite. Since I support I67 AND suggest a way t make it EASIER for an ordinary person to seek relief, I think my idea would foster competition amongst BOTH insurance companies AND friggin big law forms.

  26. 27

    spews:

    FricknFrack is correct. PEMCO has not contributed a dime to the anti-67 campaign. As Postman reported on June 26:

    SIDEBAR: Also today, PEMCO issued a clarification on its stance on Ref. 67. Last week I quoted company spokesman Jon Osterberg saying the referendum was flawed and would be bad for consumers. But he said today that came from a misunderstanding between him and others in the company.

    PEMCO is neutral on Ref. 67. It is the legislation in question, which was Senate Bill 5726, which PEMCO believes will be bad for consumers. The company will not donate to the referendum campaign, though, and believes negotiations with the governor and lawmakers are a better way to fix the law than a referendum campaign. Osterberg wrote me today:

    Efforts to modify the new law on insurance claims would be seriously hampered by a complicated referendum campaign. The law passed in 2007 would generate massive litigation, leading to higher costs for consumers because of increased business-operations costs. We believe equitable revisions to the law can best be achieved through thoughtful recommendations from the Governor’s working group.

    So PEMCO doesn’t agree with the Insurance Fair Conduct Act, but it also doesn’t support the Big Insurance campaign to smear it in the court of public opinion with “referendum” demagoguery.

  27. 28

    rhp6033 spews:

    Gee, by coincidence, my daughter happened to be rear-ended last week. Some damage to the back of her car, typical whiplash injuries (stiffness, soreness, loss of range in motion, headaches). Being over 21, she wanted to try to deal with the insurance companies herself.

    Last night she came to me and asked for help. When she talked to the adjuster for the insurance company for the other driver, she was told that (a) they would send her a check for $1,000 if she agreed to it right then, over the phone, without any further negotiations, (b) if she refused, they would put it into the “investigate” file, which would take about six months, and (c) they wouldn’t send her the paperwork to review unless she agreed to the settlement right then, over the phone, because the “didn’t want to waste their time doing the paperwork unless she was serious about settlement”. Then there were a few words about how they hoped she wasn’t trying to get rich off this unfortunate situation because, you know, it all comes out of her pocket eventually in the form of increased premiums. They also said that if it is referred for “investigation”, they would be looking into whether she is guilty of insurance fraud for trying to “inflate” her claim, as it obviously wasn’t worth more than a thousand bucks.

    So, I get on the phone with the same adjuster, and at first he refuses to talk to me, citing “privacy rules”. I fax him a signed “Power of Attorney”, and he refuses to recognize it. He says he has to talk with her and verify that she really consents to having me discuss her claim for her. She gets on the phone, and he starts railing at her about how “immoral” she is for trying to get somebody else involved, and if that is how she is going to handle it, he is going to make sure she doesn’t get anything, and he’s going to prosecute her for insurance fraud, and he hopes she spends the next ten years in jail. Unless, of course, she agrees to “fire” me and except the settlement right now, except now it is $250, instead of a thousand bucks.

    I guess it never occured to him that she would be using a speaker phone to talk to him. And that I would be sitting right beside her, listening to the entire conversation. And that so would my neighbor, a police officer who turned beet red with anger as he listened to the entire exchange. Or that when he informed us that he was recording the entire conversation and asked for our consent, it constituted implied consent on his part, also.

    I would identify the insurance company, but it is being handled by the proper authorities now, so I’ll let that process take its course, first. I hope its just a rogue agent. But you have to wonder how many other people, who don’t have father with some background in dealing with these types of things, and who don’t think they can afford to ask an attorney, end up being victimized in such a way.

  28. 29

    spews:

    On the other end of the spectrum of Big Insurance behavior from PEMCO, the following despicable companies have already spent over $1,000,000 apiece on the lying campaign against the IFCA:

    State Farm — $1,808,327.60 + $108,237.55 in-kind = $1,916,565.15
    Farmers — $1,524,325.60 + $19,280.00 in-kind = $1,543,605.60
    Allstate — $1,077,390.00 + $423,350.20 in-kind = $1,500,740.20
    Safeco — $1,305,105.00 + $147,810.00 in-kind = $1,452,915.00

    More than just a few other insurance companies and their lobbying organizations have each added at least a quarter of a million dollarsEnumclaw Insurance Group, Geico, Liberty Mutual, Nationwide, Progressive, Property Casualty Insurers Association, St. Paul Travelers, Zurich.

    And how many individual human beings have seen fit to contribute to their cause? I count exactly six cash contributors, who have added $725.00. Only two of them — the Executive President of European Soaps Ltd. and a neurosurgeon — list their occupations. There are also three individual in-kind contributors, totaling $1632.39; they include an insurance agent and the campaign’s chief shill Dana Childers (who tossed in $133.16).

  29. 30

    It's All Economics! spews:

    It’s interesting reading some of the submissions posted here. Some of you have thought this through, some have not. :) All of you are obviously passionate and I appreciate that.

    This will be my first blog comment I have ever posted. I felt compelled to post a response, because there seems to be a great deal of misconceptions going around about this referendum. On the surface, it’s easy to hate insurance companies, but the fact of the matter is they are an essential part of the economy and our lives. Yes, I hate paying the premiums. As an economy professor (I won’t say where), I know a great deal about the “working parts”. I have followed the issue from the very beginning because I saw something similar happen in California in the late 80s, and yes, it screwed things up.

    The whole Referendum is bizzare when you consider that Governor Gregoire initially refused to sign the bill (SB 5726) last year stating it was “badly written” and “wasn’t necessary”. After a last minute meeting with reps from the Trial Lawyer Association, she suddenly says “we need this”. Also, why would our insurance commissioner state we need it when it’s his job to ensure insurance companies fulfill their obligations? Why did he originally say it would raise rates, and then go on television to state otherwise? There has been a great deal of talk about how much the insurance industry has spent. How much has the Trial Lawyers Association spent? Is it more? Is it less? I’ve heard the figure $100,000, but that wouldn’t pay for two television commercials and I know I’ve seen more than that. I don’t know the answer, but I do know they contributed heavily to Governor Gregoire and Commissioner Kreidler’s campaigns. And then the big question – why would insurance agents be so adamently against this if it means insurance rates (and therefore their commissions) would rise? It would probably surprise most of you that this is entirely funded by insurance agents (who are independent contractors), and not the companies themselves. When I asked my agent about it, he told me he didn’t want auto and homeowners insurance to become what health insurance has become. A good point I think…

    There are a great deal of comments listed on the “The Truth About R-67″ blog http://www.horsesass.org/?p=3528 that are poorly thought through; however they aren’t accepting responses anymore. Here are my responses to some of those comments:

    #1 YLB: Yes, the insurance company is spending a lot. How much are the trial lawyers spending, and on whom? I don’t buy the $100K figure.

    #2 DB: It’s the fraudulent claims that are part of the problem. It is the reason insurance claims come under such scrutiny. Is it fair to blame the insurance company when fraud ruined it for the rest of us?

    #3 Michael: Health insurance is exempt from this bill. It wouldn’t have helped you.

    #6 Goldy: It wouldn’t have applied in your case either.

    #26 Busdrivermike: To say $44 billion in PROFITS is incorrect. It is SURPLUS that insurance companies are required to maintain to meet their obligations to pay claims in the even of a catastrophe loss. It stays in an account and can only be accessed in the event of a catastrophe loss. By the way, the profit margin for insurance companies is regulated at 5%. Compare that to 45% for fast food restaurants!!

    #28 Roger Rabbit: This is one of the things that confuses me about this bill. You had to sue your insurance company to get them to pay your claim. This is evidence that the current system works. You DO have recourse under current law. Under the new law, you’d have the ability to sue your insurance company if they didn’t pay your legitimate claim. What’s the difference? What do you envision happening under the new law? You have to ask why there is such a push to install this law.

    #29 Roger Rabbit: Ever wonder why they were exempt from having to tell the truth in those commercials in the first place? It has always been against the law to lie in a beer commercial, but not in a political commercial. Hmmm….

    #30 Piper Scott: Yes. Whenever the government gets involved in the affairs of business and economy, it’s never a good thing!

    #37 Tiramisu: This may be so, but rates will rise.

    #39 Roger Rabbit: I find it interesting that the Insurance Commissioner is on television talking about the need to approve R-67. He opposed this in the beginning, stating that his office was on top of things. Is he now admitting that he’s not doing his job effectively? I agree there needs to be enforcement of current laws. Why isn’t he doing it?

    #56 Roger Rabbit: I agree. People should read these things before making their decision rather than simply watching the television commercials. So many of these campaigns rely on public stupidity and laziness.

    #68 FricknFrack, Seattle: Again, you already have legal recourse to dispute a claim.

    #102 Liberal Dragon: Insurance credit scoring does not follow the FICO model, and does not discriminate against the poor (I had to write an article on this three years ago). Insurance companies can only give a CREDIT to customers with a favorable score. Those with unfavorable scores don’t get this credit. It’s a non-reward, not a penalty.

    #107 Deuce: Very good points!

    You may find it surprising that I haven’t totally made up my mind on how to vote on this one. I have my share of denied claim horror stories. I have always believed that in order to make an informed decision, you need to closely analyze both sides of the issue and I’m still knee-deep in the process. I have come up with just as many arguments in favor of approving it. That’s what scares me about it, frankly.

    I’m close to a couple law professors at the U. Neither of them like this law, but mostly because they don’t see how a big rate increase could be avoided if it’s passed. Their reasons for thinking this? Because they said 90 cents out of every insurance premium dollar ends up in a lawyer’s pocket – not with the claimant! They don’t see how the increased costs wouldn’t be passed along to the consumer. Sad, huh?

    I know you’re all bright people and this is not meant to be critical. I just want to make sure you’re thinking it through properly. I appreciate the time you’ve taken to read my rebuttal.

  30. 31

    ridovem spews:

    I got a call this morning, from the “NO onI-67″ campaign, that alleged that this law would cost (Someone) an additional $650 Million- and that it would be like a 3-way car wreck for those with auto insurance- especially tough on “Young drivers”. Where is THIS coming from? Is it really about Auto insurance claims, primarily? (I can believe tyhat might enter into it, having been screwed out of a settlement by State Farm on a “settlement” that they promised, but that never materialized… and then was informed by them that my claim had “lapsed”- and that they were no longer liable.) I was thinking it was more about medical insurane… better go read it all the way through (sigh)… ^..^

  31. 32

    It's All Economics! spews:

    Ridovem:

    This is one of the common misconseptions about R-67. You have to wonder why the bulk of the commercials FOR R-67 lead you to believe it’s about health insurance. Why wouldn’t they be straightforward about it being an auto and homeowners initiative rather than leading you to believe it’s about health insurance?

    Things that make you go-Hmmmmmmm…..

  32. 33

    Strange Currencies spews:

    I have to agree with It’s All Economics! on this one. When I saw the first commercials put out by the Approve R-67 campaign, I realized they were the ones that had something to hide. Why else would you present cases of denied claims that don’t fall within the scope of the proposed bill? The case involving the firefighter with leukemia wouldn’t have been helped with this bill because the coverage would have been provided either by health insurance (exempt from this bill) or workers compensation (which is a state-run program in Washtington-also exempt). You would ALWAYS be able to find one or two horror stories out there regarding the way an insurance claim was handled – and THIS is what they came up with? It seems to me that if this law was necessary, they should have been able to come up with countless cases…or at least something…something better…something RELEVANT. They lost credibility quickly with me with this one.

    The bottom line is the current frustration we all have with insurance companies has been created by the trial lawyers and the litigious society in which we live. A litigious society they created. Other countries don’t deal with the high insurance costs and claim payment delays that we deal with, and it’s all due to the fact that it’s not as easy to sue in other countries. We can’t stop with just the amount of actual damages, we have to tack on excessive “punitive damages” and “pain and suffering”. We file lawsuits because we feel like a chump if we don’t. Under the new law, we could ask, “What have I got to lose by trying?” After all, it’s the big insurance company with this boatload of money – right? They can afford it! For those of you who know anything about insurance, that’s not the way it works.

    We have a tendancy to beat the dog because it’s scratching rather than addressing the fleas. The trial lawyers are the fleas, and we don’t accomplish anything by beating the dog. Perhaps we deserve what we’re getting…

    Do us all a favor and read the actual bill before you mail your ballot in. Otherwise, you shouldn’t vote at all. Here’s a link to the actual bill:

    http://www.secstate.wa.gov/ele.....t/r067.pdf

    Sorry about the lengthy comment. Have a nice day!