Insurance company mottos attempt to reinforce a sense of security: “You’re in Good Hands With Allstate”, “Like a Good Neighbor, State Farm is There” and “Nationwide is on Your Side.”

Insurance should provide security against unexpected problems. The question is, are you really in Good Hands with Allstate? For that matter, how much Like a Good Neighbor is State Farm? And, is Nationwide actually on your side?

Here is one example of how Allstate uses its “Good Hands.” A Seattle-area woman was severely injured when a car ran a stop sign and hit her minivan. Her seatbelt failed and she flew out of her vehicle. She suffered severe head injuries which resulted in blindness in one eye and the loss of sensation in her lips, forehead and scalp.

Allstate’s adjuster offered $25,000 to settle this claim. The woman accepted the offer even though she had over $75,000 in medical bills.

Allstate’s release made the woman sign away her right to pursue any further recovery. Because her seatbelt failed, the woman had a potential claim against the manufacturer of her minivan (which was later recalled because of the problem).

The woman eventually filed a lawsuit against Allstate alleging (among other things) that the Allstate adjuster was improperly practicing law.

Advising a person about the effect of a legal document is practicing law. Allstate is under investigation in many states regarding allegations that its employees are illegally practicing law.

This case was one of the first to use a copy of Allstate’s internal claims manual outlining its policies.

Allstate attempted to prevent the information in this case from being discussed, lest people wonder if they really are in “Good Hands.” The King County Superior Court, however, recently unsealed some of the case documents.

Allstate’s claims manual is an interesting document. It contains role-playing guides on how to deal with people who are not represented by attorneys.

It discusses Allstate’s findings that attorney “represented claims settle for 2-3 times more than unrepresented claims.” Whether or not Allstate’s statistics are correct, it goes without saying that Allstate would prefer to settle claims for less rather than more.

No lawyer should promise 2-3 times higher settlements simply because of representation. The internal documents are certainly not guarantees. They do suggest, however, a corporate policy to discourage people from seeking legal representation.

Allstate’s claims manual is at times explicit:

  • “Regular follow-up claimant to reduce the need for attorney involvement.”
  • “establish a trust-based relationship” with the injured person.

“We will move . . . to more customer-focused goals such as % of claimants who remain unrepresented . . .”

Allstate has carefully crafted the movements of its “Good Hands.” According to an internal discussion guide, “it is critical that deviations from the recommended script are not advised”.

Any insurance company that settles thousands of claims a month understandably would want to do so as efficiently as possible. This efficiency is rarely in the interest of the injured person, however.

Without a good attorney, injured people do not have access to information or the full power of the courts.

Anderton Law Office actually is on your side. At Anderton Law Office, we provide “power to the people.” We tenaciously and ethically represent a client’s individual interest, not the interests of a corporation.


by, Bob Anderton

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