Saturday, November 10, 2012

Insurance Claims and Settlements

The one thing that I am learning is the importance of research of how other people and their attorneys have successfully navigated this tangled web with their insurance claims and settlements.  It appears that this is necessary in order to achieve a just settlement or outcome with an insurance company such as Fidelity National Title Insurance Company or Fidelity national Title Group or Fidelity National Financial.

It appears that insurance companies are renowned for either not paying claims, paying low settlement amounts or withholding the release of settlement funds until the absolute last possible second.  These are implemented as both money making and money preserving techniques.  Major insurance companies like Fidelity National Financial and its subsidiary Fidelity National Title Group have billions of dollars due to high revenues and cash flow.  Like banks, they invest these funds in order to increase their profits.  Even if a claim should be paid that they cannot avoid paying, they will hold the money as long as legally possible in an effort to increase their own profits through the interest they earn on their investments.

Per my research in addition to delaying the payment of settlements, most insurance companies implement many of the following strategies to cut costs and generate profit:

  • Nickel and dime individual clients with various charges with the knowledge that the clients cannot afford to investigate their legal options.
  • Make the process lengthy and difficult by constantly changing the personnel handling the claim and moving the client from claims office to claims office.  Sound familiar?
  • Provide "expert" evaluations of the value of the loss that are misleading and/or inaccurate knowing that the clients cannot afford to investigate the value of the claim on their own.
  • Present clients with a very small initial settlement offer, as many policy holders do not realize they do not have to accept the insurance company's first offer nor questions the validity of the valuation.  (Such as value the loss of an easement to Mt. Veeder Road in Napa County with a value to an existing easement to Cavedale Road in Sonoma County.)
  • Wait until the last possible week to disperse the payment of the settlement knowing that this process can last for years.  (It has now been 4 1/2 years since this process started for me.)

The bottom line appears from my research to be the bottom line of profits for Fidelity National Financial and its subsidiary Fidelity National Title Group and subsequently its stockholders- its employees.  The same people who process the claims.