Profits over Policy Holders

The American Association for Justice conducted an investigation to identify the worst insurance companies for consumers. We at Christensen & Hymas have compiled the information, statistics, and quotations from the American Association for Justice’s final report in one brief overview.

Insurance companies have found a new way to increase their profits: paying out less. With claim denial on the rise, accompanied by an increase in premiums and policy refusals, insurance companies have found a way to create free money. All of the companies we will touch on in this article have been scrutinized for their customer service, their ethics, and their general operations. Many of them have knowingly broken the law in order to increase profits and all have found themselves on our top ten list of worst insurance companies.

Allstate

Allstate’s profits reached an all-time high in 2007, capping out at around 4.6 billion dollars. This may seem like an excruciatingly large number, and it is. However, this profit is due to the company’s overall business plan which, according to their CEO, “is to earn a return for our shareholders.” We would rather see an insurance company be concerned for a policy-holder’s well-being than see it concerned with pleasing stockholders. With Allstate you’re not really “in good hands.” You are in their pockets.

Unum

Unum is one of the nation’s largest disability insurers. Recently, Unum has come under scrutiny over unnecessary red tape and roadblocks in order to slow or deny claims all together. In fact, there was a leaked internal email between executives that read, “[The] return on these claim improvement initiatives is expected to be substantial… [A] 1% decrease in benefit cost…translates into approximately 6 million in annual savings.” This company knowingly reduced their claim service in order to increase their profit by 1%. We can only imagine what they would do for a 5% increase.

AIG

AIG, the world’s largest insurer, has a past riddled with claims-abuse for not only their individual clients, but also their business clients. Possibly one of the largest complaints against AIG has been that they increase their premiums during times of catastrophe in order to boost their profits. The company has been labeled by many critics as “the new Enron” due to the multiple charges of corporate fraud filed against them. After discovering that the company was losing money in their auto insurance sector, the company systematically denied even legitimate claims in order to retain their profit margin. On top of their claim denial, AIG has also been charged with the creation of “phantom bonds,” or, in other words, forged documents that only contribute to their critic-imposed nickname, “the new Enron.”

State Farm

State Farm has become notably infamous for a certain characteristic of their business. They have come up with a system called the “three D’s”: deny the claim, delay the payment, and do anything to defend against a lawsuit. This is just another example of putting profit be

fore the needs of customers and making their customer experience more expensive, difficult, and time consuming than it ever should be. They have also begun to follow in AIG’s footsteps and are currently denying claims no matter how legitimate they may be.

Conseco

Conseco is a provider of long-term care policies with a large percentage of elderly customers. “Conseco uses the deteriorating health of their clients to their advantage because the company knows if it waits long enough to pay out claims, its customers will die.” This company is built based on the hope that their clients will die before they have to pay their medical bills and their policy will expire. They are just one more insurance company that is focusing less on caring for their customers and more about caring for their wallets.

WellPoint

WellPoint, the nation’s largest health insurer, is best known for its cancellations of policies for pregnant women and chronically ill patients. They are concerned with one thing: profit. They are willing to take away coverage for those who need it most in order to save money. In

surance Commissioner Steve Poizner announced in 2007 that his office was charging WellPoint with a fine of 12.6 million dollars. He said that WellPoint had “committed serious violations that completely undermine the public trust in our healthcare delivery system.” This came after law enforcement officials had uncovered nearly 1200 unlawful practices being carried out in the organization. Even after this discovery, WellPoint refused to change their practices and went back to business as usual once they had paid off their fines.

Farmers

Farmers is a company based on the rewards system. Many of the branches have been scrutinized for offering incentives to adjusters who met low payment goals. They also radiate deception and use it to their advantage when issuing settlements for claims. In an internal email, an executive wrote: “We have been creeping up in settlements… Our [claims representatives] must resist the temptation of paying more to move this type of file. Teach them to say, ‘Sorry, no more’…and mean it.” This email shows a blatant disregard for customer well-being and shows just how twisted some insurance companies’ views of ethics really are: they will do anything to make a buck. This company is intentionally deceptive, causing their customers to pay more for little to no assistance when disaster strikes.

UnitedHealth

UnitedHealth is a medical insurance provider that has been accused of endangering patients’ lives through their greed. It has been said that the rates are so low and the payments are so delayed, customers’ health has been put at risk. They have paired up with another organization, AARP, in order to keep premiums high and tell seniors their plan is the only viable option. “UnitedHealth has systematically been forcing patients to pay more than they should for visits to out-of-network doctors and hospitals by intentionally low-balling reimbursement rates.” UnitedHealth is having their cake and eating it too. Not only are they over-charging customers for sub-prime health coverage, they are also making it impossible to go to any doctor that is not approved by them. They have created a corrupt and inescapable profiteering scheme and have convinced their customers there is no other way to have coverage.

Torchmark

Torchmark is an organization that admits what it truly is and seems almost proud of it. They have admitted that the company started “as little more than a scam.” They have been accused of preying on the less fortunate in the South for over 100 years and seem to not have any type of regret. They have also been sanctioned for being prejudiced and charging policy holders who are a part of a minority more than they do a white person for identical coverage.  Not only are they proud to be a scam, but they also have bigoted tactics that are still in use today.

Liberty Mutual

Last-but certainly not least-is Liberty Mutual. They have, like State Farm, adopted the 3 D’s process of “deny, delay, and defend.” They have also been accused of rigging bids so customers are guaranteed to overpay no matter how much coverage they receive. Though every other insurance company has come forward and admitted to their role in bid rigging after the Marsh & McLennan scandal, “Liberty Mutual remains the only insurance company that refuses to concede guilt.” The companies would generate fraudulent documents then create a false inflation rate in order to raise their prices without falling to scrutiny. They are proficient at playing with smo
ke and mirrors and creating a ruse that is difficult to discern.

Well, there you have it-our list of the top 10 worst insurance companies in the United States. We hope that this was not only informative, but also helped you in some way to understand your insurance better or rethink your chosen policy.

Ken Christensen
Partner, Founder at Christensen & Hymas
Ken Christensen is the founding partner of Christensen & Hymas. He is an avid cyclist, loves baseball, and enjoys spending time with his family in the outdoors.

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