We were honored to be contacted by the good folks at the Penguin Group’s Portfolio Publishing a week or so back. They inquired if we’d be interested in reviewing a new book by Jay M Feinman on the insurance claims process titled Delay Deny Defend. Professor Feinman is a Distinguished Professor of Law at Rutgers University School of Law who shares an interest in how insurers handle their claims with your (mostly) humble moderators here at Slabbed. According to the book’s website, “Feinman is a well-known expert on contract law, tort law, insurance law, and legal education. His scholarly work, including more than fifty scholarly articles, has been widely cited in the academic literature and by courts, including the United States Supreme Court.”
Lets begin with the accompanying press release:
Over the last two decades, insurance has become less of a safety net and more of a spider’s web: sticky and complicated, designed to ensnare as much as to aid.
Author and insurance expert Jay Feinman explores how these trends developed, how the government ought to fix the system and what the rest of us can do to protect ourselves.
In the book Dr Feinman chronicles many of the systemic abuses of policyholders many of which we have covered through time here. A few of the more interesting points Dr Feinman makes:
- Auto insurance company spies who infiltrate church support groups to prove accident victims faked injuries.
- Claims Adjusters who receive cash incentives to reduce the amount paid out on each claim.
- Katrina claims adjusters receiving their 2 day training at a Burger King before being given a ladder and notebook computer.
Of course it was his chapter on Hurricane Katrina that immediately drew my interest. Before I share the contents of the chapter I’d like to take a second to highlight what is not is in it. First off there are no fanciful Grand Unified Theories that attempt to tie the policyholder cases to Dick Scrugg’s subsequent criminal behavior. Lecky King is correctly identified as a female (vagina dentata)….well not really the last part and the insurance industry’s bad behavior is front and center where it belonges As I read the chapter I was briefly overcome with emotion as I saw tangible proof people are listening and do get it:
Slab cases were the most hotly disputed, even giving their name to the blog called slabbed, which expresses the frustration of Gulf residents by defining “slabbed” as “blown down, knocked down, or just down”.
Two of the journalists that we admire the most on Slabbed for their work reporting the events here, The Sun Herald’s Anita Lee and The Times Picayune’s Rebecca Mowbray are also credited by the author. Professor Feinman breaks down the 5th circuit’s mishandling of anti concurrent causation in Leonard and cites examples of the inconsistent legal stances taken by insurers most notably State Farm. Again we see the post Katrina hatchet jobs such as Mike Chaney’s deeply flawed, unsupported conclusions contained in his State Farm Market Conduct Exam and the Department of Homeland Security’s OIG report on claims dumping laid bare for the world to see. The chapter concludes with a quote from an Anita Lee’s story on Chaney’s whitewash market conduct exam from local attorney Joe Sam Owens:
‘If I didn’t know he was the Commissioner of Insurance, I would have thought he worked for State Farm.” And Owens may only have been premature in his remarks. Lee Harrell, the deputy commissioner of insurance who oversaw the examiniation of State Farm, left shortly after and joined Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, a law firm that represented State Farm in Katrina issues.
Finally Professor Feinman presents an appendix which lists resources for policyholders. It lists the usual all-star cast including David Berardinelli, author of From Good Hands to Boxing Gloves: The Dark Side of Insurance, Law Professor Jeffrey Stempel’s Litigation Road: the Story of Campbell v State Farm, The National Association of Insurance Commissioner’s website, our friend Amy Bach over at United Policyholders, and Robert Hunter over at the Consumer Federation among others. In the section keeping up to date we find Professor Feinman shares our affinity for Chip Merlin’s blog and Sam Friedman’s blog. He also lists a blog called Slabbed:
Detailed, often entertaining commentary on disaster insurance issues, particularly on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
While certain upstate cliques thought they had ignored us to oblivion something else was happening. The people that have literally defined the issues on the national level were tuning in. We’re both very proud and humbled to be mentioned in the same breath as Robert Hunter, David Berardinelli, Chip, Amy and even my main man Sam. Nowdy for the issues we cover I think I’m safe saying we are the preeminent policyholder blog in this country bar none. Nowdy, Bam Bam, Belle and many others too numerous to mention deserve this recognition for making slabbed possible. We’ll have more from Professor Feinman in another post. Meantime for the Slabbed Nation and Crooks in Gucci Suits everywhere rest assured…….