No more Mr. Nice Guy – Merlin takes on Safeco and Liberty Mutual

Chip Merlin, fired up and ready to go after Safeco and Liberty Mutual, issued a call to arms on his blog today in Safeco and Liberty Mutual Claims Practices Questioned on a National Basis: Policyholders Organize Against Wrongful Claims Practices.

Having seen what wrongful claims practices can do to family and communities in our State’s coastal counties, SLABBED  grabbed a keyboard and stands ready to type.

Suppose you knew that your insurance company had started a new claims practice program called “Quantum Leap” to increase corporate practices by making certain no claim was overpaid—would you buy that insurance? Would you feel peace of mine if you knew that secret program was in place and had such a claims philosophy?

Chances are that if such a claims program were in place and advertised to potential purchasers, nobody would buy from that insurance company. Revenues would drop and losses would incur. So, when Safeco Insurance Company started on such a claims program to increase overall corporate profits, do you think the Safeco executives wrote their customers, agents, and potential purchasers about such a program if it were really in the customer’s interest as well? Of course not. But, this is exactly what happened at Safeco.

Last year, Liberty Mutual Insurance Company purchased Safeco Insurance Company. After doing due diligence, the managers and executives at Liberty Mutual knew that Safeco’s claims philosophies fit within Liberty Mutual’s. Liberty Mutual had its own claims payment reduction programs as well. Similar to Allstate, Liberty Mutual hired outside claims consultants to develop claims philosophies that added to corporate profit through claims reduction programs. The purchase of Safeco Insurance Company by Liberty Mutual Insurance Company is a match made in heaven for the short term investors of Liberty Mutual and the executives of those companies.

Our firm has been retained on a number of property insurance disputes involving these companies. As a result of my involvement in one particular matter where I have received no response from Safeco, I have decided to do something about these companies claims problems in the same manner I approached Allstate Insurance Company when I was chair of the Bad Faith Litigation Group for two years in the mid 1990s and Allstate was underpaying claims based upon its wrongful claims program known as Claims Core Process Redesign. I will help organize a cooperative effort of those that have been victimized by these companies to publicly warn other consumers of these companies’ claims practices and raise knowledge with regulators interested helping insurance customer interests.

While Chair of the Bad Faith Litigation Group, I presented numerous seminars regarding Allstate’s claims practices. An example is my 1997 presentation to the Montana Trial Lawyers Association, “Overcoming Allstate’s Trade Secrets and Work Product Objections.” The results of these networking activities regarding Allstate were documented in part on previous posts:

  1. Deal, or No Deal?”
  2. The Good Hands Gets the Iron Fist
  3. Ed Liddy
  4. David Berardinelli’s Fight Against Allstate’s Claims Culture
  5. Allstate Does the Right Thing
  6. Allstate Testifies Today
  7. States Seek McKinsey Reports

My intention is to create similar networking and transparency with Safeco and Liberty Mutual and share the 150,000 internal documents we have already collected regarding the secret claims practices of these companies. In this manner, other victimized policyholders will not suffer the similar consequences without understanding why the claims programs were not isolated just to them and the real motive for the delays and denials by Safeco and Liberty Mutual. Possibly, executives at Liberty Mutual will stop these practices and do right to their customers. If not, at least brokers and customers will know what Safeco and Liberty Mutual are about when it comes time to pay fully and promptly following a loss.

On December 17, 2009, our firm with other consumer law firms will host a claims practice seminar in Houston that will focus on Hurricane Ike claims practices as well as Safeco and Liberty Mutual claims practices. Computerized legal databases now allow us to find all federal and most state lawsuits against Safeco and Liberty Mutual which involve property insurance or bad faith lawsuits. Those attorneys representing the policyholders will start getting their invitations today.

Websites about Safeco and Liberty Mutual along with Facebook sites will be up and running by next week so claims practice information may be shared among consumers, whistleblowers, and victims of these insurance companies. Honest and trustworthy insurance companies should applaud our efforts because companies that cheat on claims should not be allowed to gain market share by having lower rates by such practices than those that fully and promptly pay their claims.

2 thoughts on “No more Mr. Nice Guy – Merlin takes on Safeco and Liberty Mutual”

  1. Check out the $3.75M settlement to the Saint Louis Produce Market, Inc. in 2009. The worse ice storm in 300 years (Dec. 2006) just didn’t measure up to any cause of roof damage. I’m glad chip is going after them and if he needs info, he can contact me. Go – Go – Go…..

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