Delay, Deny, Defend

Delay, Deny, Defend - Why Insurance Companies Don't Pay Claims and What You Can Do About It. No, that's not the theme of a bad faith trial.  Its the title of Professor Jay M. Feinman's new book that chronicles the bad faith practices of insurance companies.  Several months back, the book's publisher, Penguin, provided me with an advance copy, and I found it to be dead-on.  An easy and enlightening read, Feinman details the systematic and widespread practices utilized by insurance companies across the country, and then shows insurance consumers exactly how to best deal with these mammoth companies that seldom have the insured's best interest at heart.  

Here's a description of the book directly from its author and publisher, taken from the book's website:

Do you think your insurance policy has your property protected from life's many mishaps? That those premiums you pay every month guarantee you the help you need when you need it? That your insurance company is a benevolent entity that strives to pay claims fairly and promptly? Think again.

Your insurer's main objective is not to protect you; in fact, insurers often try to avoid paying justified claims. Today the name of the game is delay, deny, defend: to improve their profits, insurance companies delay payment of justified claims, deny payment altogether, and defend their actions by forcing claimants to enter litigation.

It's unconscionable, and it's widespread. From stonewalling and lowballing claims to instigating arbitrary fraud investigations, insurance companies are increasingly failing to live up to their contractual commitments. Some major insurers even hired the big-name consulting firm McKinsey to help them squeeze even more cash out of their claims centers. Why? Because insurance companies have realized they can add to their bottom line by using your monthly payments as a profit center, rather than a fund for giving you what you deserve if tragedy strikes.

Expert Jay M. Feinman details the infuriating systemic abuses, including:
Katrina victims left homeless because of an obscure flood exemption clause in their homeowners insurance policies.
Computer programs that arbitrarily cut the settlements offered to auto accident victims on a take-it-or-leave-it basis.
Claims adjusters who receive cash incentives to reduce the amount paid out on each claim.
Feinman shows you how to fight back, explaining how to choose a carrier that won't take advantage of you, how to file a claim so that your provider can't avoid paying you, and what to do when your insurer disputes your claim. He also details the steps lawmakers need to take to protect consumers and thwart the aggressive and abusive tactics of insurance companies. No matter what the advertisements say, your insurance provider is not your friend or a "good neighbor." You need to be smart and savvy to deal with your insurer-Delay, Deny, Defend tells you what you need to know.

Feinman did a great job with this one, and its a must-read for both insureds and insurance consumer advocates.