Consumer Advocates Criticize Allstate’s Claims Practices

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A California consumer advocate group is condemning Allstate for
allegedly "systematically underpaying claims to policyholders, or
forcing them into protracted court battles to secure a fair

According to Consumer Watchdog, formerly the Foundation for Taxpayer
and Consumer Rights, the shoddy business practices were exposed when
the insurer released 150,000 pages of documents on its Web site of consultant McKinsey & Co.’s report on claims practices conducted in the 1990s.

"Thousands of pages of Allstate’s internal documents reveal the
company’s ‘Us versus Them’ attitude toward its customers. Allstate
policyholders who paid their premiums faithfully were fleeced while the
company underpaid claims and padded profits with the money they owed
their customers," CW stated. "These revelations demand that state
regulators open examinations of Allstate rates, and require the insurer
to refund consumers for overcharges and lower insurance premiums where
they have been too high across the country," said Carmen Balber for the
advocate group. "Allstate’s ‘good hands’ are stealing from customers’
pocketbooks," she said.

However, Allstate said the documents, as analyzed by CW and others,
were taken out of context. "Public criticisms by people with a vested
interest in creating an inaccurate picture of the company’s claim
practices have been based unfairly on only snippets from the documents
taken out of context," the company said in a statement.

Some of the facts about Allstate’s claims practices that the company
said have been overlooked in the debate over the documents include:

– As a regulated company, Allstate’s claims practices are available to and regularly reviewed by state departments of insurance.

-Allstate resolved millions of homeowners and auto claims last year and continued to earn very high rates of policy renewal.

-The company regularly communicates with our customers and claimants
about their claim and what they can expect from the process.

-Allstate is aggressive in fighting fraud to protect our customers
and reduce the cost of insurance. The company employs a special
investigative unit (SIU) that is specifically charged with identifying
and combating fraud.

"We became the largest publicly held personal lines insurance
company in the United States in no small part because we built a
reputation of being there for our customers in their time of need by
resolving claims fairly, accurately and in a timely manner," said
Allstate spokesman Rich Halberg. "The fact that we have added millions
of new customers over the past 15 years speaks to the outstanding claim
service we provide."

The company noted that the documents were designed to help it more
consistently and effectively evaluate claims. Furthermore, "When aired
in the unbiased setting of a court of law, allegations about the
documents have been shown to be without merit. Most recently, some of
the documents were seen and explained in context to a jury during a
two-week trial in Kentucky (Hager v. Allstate). The jury unanimously ruled in Allstate’s favor in deliberations that lasted less than two hours," the company said.

Nevertheless, Consumer Watchdog Executive Director Doug Heller said,
"Lawmakers and regulators around the country need to crack down on
insurance company gouging and abuses to protect consumers, not just
from Allstate, but from rate and claims abuse throughout the insurance

To view the documents, visit

Sources: Allstate, Consumer Watchdog

Consumer Watchdog
Consumer Watchdog
Providing an effective voice for American consumers in an era when special interests dominate public discourse, government and politics. Non-partisan.

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