Automobile Insurance

CFA claims auto insurers stiff injured policy holders

(12/12/2010) Insurers may be using computerized claim systems to lowball payouts to auto insurance policy holders injured in auto accidents.

Injured auto insurance policy holders should challenge payouts for claims because "some insurers have adjusted ('tuned') their computer systems to generate claims' 'savings,' without adequately examining the validity of each claim that has been made," according to a recent Consumer Federation of America (CFA) "Consumer Alert".

CFA says for the past decade, insurers have been using computerized systems, including one called"Colossus", to evaluate damages for certain claims, including those for pain, suffering and anguish. The systems produce a range of settlement offers.

The systems have been challenged in litigation for being calibrated to systematically underpay claims.

CFA says courts have ruled for large settlements against a number of insurance companies using the computer systems.

"Consumers should be very vigilant when dealing with automobile bodily injury claims generated by computer programs," said CFA's Director of Insurance J. Robert Hunter.

"By adjusting their computer systems to generate claims' 'savings' without adequately examining the validity of each claim, these automated claims' systems can result in unfairly low payments to consumers," Hunter said.

Consumers who file automobile bodily injury claims with insurance companies should take the following steps to make sure they are not paid less than they deserve.

• Ask if a computer was used in helping the insurer arrive at an offer of settlement. • If a computerized system was used, ask the insurer to provide the "range' of offers that were generated, from low to high.

• Don't accept any offer that is less than the high end of the range. If the insurer is not willing to pay a claim on the high side, consumers should ask for a written explanation and consider filing a complaint with state insurance regulators or seeking legal help.


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