James J. Burke

Computers deciding Pain and Suffering?

I just finished reading a very interesting article generated from the Consumer Federation of America. They are a non-profit organization that acts as an advocate for all of us with scrutiny toward businesses and business practices. This particular piece contained “Consumer Alerts” directed to the claim practices of many auto insurance companies. Specifically, they explored how these companies place their dollar values for settlement offers on personal injury cases.

So, it seems to be a growing trend among these companies to use computer programs in order to evaluate the pain and suffering of an individual claimant on a case. The companies that sell these programs promise that the insurance companies will reduce the dollars paid on claims for pain and suffering by up to 20%. A computer is giving the adjuster a range for settlement offers on your claim. It’s almost like internet dating for your injury claim…as your law firm we are in negotiations with adjusters on a daily basis. Sometimes we find ourselves in that proverbial “rock and a hard place” in our discussions and the adjuster seems to have no reason as to why they are undervaluing your claim; now we know why. I do think the article is an important read so click here to read it.

Please check back with our website for further updates and information. Look for further discussions and blogs about Fall Down, Dog Bite and Worker’s Compensation cases. We welcome your e-mails with comments, contributions and suggestions.


Finding the Right Auto Insurance

For my first blog, I thought we should cover one of my favorite subjects; auto insurance companies! We get many calls from clients asking our opinion about the different auto insurance companies writing business in Illinois. Usually it means that they’re shopping for a new company or at least reviewing their options. So here are some thoughts:

A review of this subject should probably start on the Illinois Division of Insurance web site www.idfpr.com. Look for the “Quick Reference” section (near the bottom of the page); then, under the “Division of Insurance” heading, select “Complaint Information” from the drop-down menu and click “Go.” There you can click on the “Complaints Statistics” for 2006 and the “Private Passenger Automobile” link. These are the latest statistics available and, for the most part, are helpful in evaluating these companies.

The important figure on this page is the Auto Complaint Ratio. The actual number of complaints against the companies is relevant, but it can also be a bit misleading. Two of the top three companies for complaints, Allstate and State Farm, also write the most business. State Farm, for example, has a low Auto Complaint Ratio of 0.13. The top two in 2006 Auto Complaint Ratio are USAgencies Direct Insurance Company at 5.86 and American Heartland Insurance Company at 5.76. Review these Auto Complaint Ratio numbers closely, because it can help you to make your decision.

We advise clients to be careful with any company that has an Auto Complaint Ratio over 1.00.

One final suggestion: Raising the liability limits on an auto policy can be a relatively inexpensive investment for your protection. We recommend that you discuss this option with your insurance agent or salesperson.