October 29, 2009

Kirk Bernard Offers 12 Answers to Common Auto Insurance Questions

A current ArticlesBase piece by Seattle personal injury attorney, Kirk Bernard, addresses twelve answers to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding auto insurance in Washington. The article provides answers to questions that range from what a person should do after being in a car accident, to how a motorist can save money on auto insurance.

Considering that auto collisions are incidents that no one ever plans to have befall upon them, the consequences that follow are often just as unexpected. However, learning more about your legal rights as an auto accident victim can help ensure that you know all of your options when it comes to auto insurance and compensation.

Read the full article for more information regarding common answers to auto insurance questions.

October 29, 2009

Kirk Bernard Discusses How the Value of a Claim is Determined

An article was recently published on American Chronicle by Kirk Bernard that focuses on how the value of a personal injury claim is determined. Although formulating how much a claim is worth is not an easy task, the article emphasizes specific factors such as the extent of medical treatment (physical therapy, surgery, etc.), limits of insurance coverage, extent of property damage, and many other circumstances surrounding an accident that may influence a claim’s significance.

To learn more about what issues or conditions may influence the value of your injury claim, read the full article.

September 21, 2007

Can Insurance Companies Withhold Payment for Approved Procedures?

According to Consumer Reports, insurance companies can withhold payment after a procedure or treatment is done even if they had previously approved the procedure or treatment. If the insurance company concludes that whatever you had done was not medically necessary, based on information uncovered after the procedure was performed, they can deny the promised payment. Dr. Marvin Lipman, a chief medical adviser to Consumers Union, states that medically necessary is “an iffy sort of qualification that can usually be verified by your physician.”

If the insurance still refuses to pay the claim, patients have the right to dispute the company’s decision. For more information and tips for dealing with denied insurance claims, please visit http://www.insure.com/articles/healthinsurance/claim-denial.html or http://www.fool.com/personal-finance/insurance/2007/01/25/fight-for-your-rights-health-insurance-claims.aspx.

Article Source: http://www.komotv.com/news/consumer/9659797.html

September 5, 2007

Progressive Insurance Fined

Washington State’s insurance commissioner Mike Kreidler fined Progressive Insurance group more than $150,000 after the company unlawfully calculated and charged incorrect premiums to more than 62,700 policy holders. From October 2005 through April 2006, both Progressive Classic Insurance and Progressive Northwestern Insurance companies used unapproved rates to calculate premiums for uninsured bodily injury and property coverage’s. The companies both undercharged and overcharged customers in Washington State. Once the mistake was realized, the company had already overcharged around $720,000. To date, the company has refunded around $341,645 to those overcharged customers. This is not the first time that Progressive has been charged for such infractions. The first violation occurred in 2005 and the company was fined $10,000.

The money paid in such fines is collected by the Insurance Commissioner and deposited into the states general fund. The fund supports various programs for Washington State residents. In 2006, the commissioner collected $2.2 million in fines.

Article Source: http://www.insurance.wa.gov/news/dynamic/newsreleasedetail.asp?rcdNum=567

August 9, 2007

Tips for Handling Bills Denied by Health Insurance

An internet survey recently conducted by PNC Financial Services Group found that out of 1,000 consumers, close to one in four said they had a legitimate claim denied by their health insurance. Here are some helpful hints when dealing with denied claims:

1. Get Help: Seek help from your doctor, hospital business office, and employee benefits office. These offices can be a lot more powerful then you. Also seek help from the Patient Advocate Foundation, a non profit group who employs case managers specifically to help people work out insurance company issues.
2. Be Persistent: Appeal, appeal, appeal. “You may go through three or four levels of appeals before you get a favorable resolution” says Nancy Davenport-Ennis, co-founder of the Patient Advocate Foundation.
3. Use the Right Words: According to advocacy groups, certain words like “cosmetic” or “to enhance esteem” can trigger the denial of medical bills. Insurance companies may refuse to pay these bills claiming the procedure was not medically necessary. Instead, use words that mention the specific problems.
4. Ask your Doctor to Resubmit: Sometimes just having your doctor tweak the paperwork slightly will fix the problem.
5. Seek Legal Help: The help of or the threat of using a lawyer is sometimes all the convincing an insurance company needs to start paying denied bills.

Mohit Ghose, a spokesperson for America’s Health Insurance Plans, which represents 1,300 insurance companies, stated that the survey was flawed. He asserts that only about 3-4 percent of all claims are denied by companies. He attributes these denials to doctors entering in the wrong codes when filing the insurance papers and employers not purchasing certain kinds of health care for their employees’ insurance.

July 10, 2007

The Coalition Behind Washington's Approve 67 Campaign Is Growing

The Approve 67 campaign announced today that Washington consumers, progressives, seniors, firefighters and labor leaders have officially endorsed the Approve 67 campaign. The group is working to pass new consumer protections against unfair insurance industry tactics and trends to deny legitimate claims.

"Thousands of honest, hard working people in Washington are forced to fight insurance companies over legitimate claims each year," said Sue Evans, spokesperson for the Approve 67 campaign. "Referendum 67 says the insurance industry must treat people fairly. It's a law that is long overdue."

Referendum 67 would require insurance companies to pay legitimate claims in a timely manner and holds them accountable if they do not. If voters approve 67 in November, insurance companies would face penalties for unfairly treating consumers with valid claims.

Continue reading "The Coalition Behind Washington's Approve 67 Campaign Is Growing " »

June 13, 2007

“Teensurance” Available Soon

Starting June 27th Safeco Insurance will offer “Teensurance” to its customers in 44 states. Teensurance is a new wallet sized tracking system that is mounted on the dashboard of a vehicle. The system allows parents to set limits for their teenage driver’s using the Teensurance web site. When the teenage driver exceeds the speed limit or travels too far from home or school, the parent automatically receives a message via phone call, text message, or email. The parent can also go online to see the car’s location.

Safeco will offer the service at $14.99 a month. They will not introduce insurance reduction rates until the company determines whether the program actually reduces the amount of collisions. Jim Havens, Safeco’s vice president, says that the device can also be used to monitor elderly drivers or vehicles in a small business fleet.

Click here for the article source.

May 16, 2007

Negotiating with insurance companies

Insurance adjusters are trained professionals whose goal is to settle your case as quickly and cheaply as possible. Every time you communicate with the insurance company their mindset is geared toward evaluating your claim in the light most favorable to their interests. Your bodily injury claim should never be settled on their terms or timetable. Tom Budinich at Bernard & Lindquist used to work as a bodily injury adjuster and he knows how insurance companies work. Without the legitimate threat of filing a lawsuit in your corner, an insurance company will never evaluate your claim for its true worth. Contact Bernard & Lindquist today and we can give you a free evaluation of your case and all of its components including medical bills, wage loss, and pain and suffering.

May 15, 2007

Insurance Fair Conduct Act Is Passed By The Legislature!

On Tuesday, May 15, 2007, Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire signed into law the Insurance Fair Conduct Act. This bill finally gives real penalties for insurance companies who unreasonably deny a claim or fail to pay benefits to their insureds.

The attorneys at Bernard & Lindquist have fought for passage of this bill. It has become standard practice in the insurance industry to "shave" off claim payments. For example, in the case of an at-fault driver who runs a red light and broadsides another vehicle, we commonly see an insurance adjuster arbitrarily assigning some percentage of fault on their own insured driver who had a green light. By doing this, the insurance company does not have to pay 100% of their insured’s vehicle damage or medical bills. These are benefits paid for by the insured in his monthly premiums. The amount “shaved” by the insurance company may total only a few hundred dollars per claim, but it saves the insurance industry executives millions.

Prior to passage of this law, an insured driver had no recourse but to accept the insurance adjuster’s low offer because if he filed a lawsuit he could only receive the amount the insurance company should have paid in the first place.

Without some risk of having to pay more than the claimed amount, there is no deterrent to the insurance company for unreasonably denying a claim. The Insurance Fair Conduct Act corrects this inequity by allowing for an award of attorneys fees and costs if it is determined that the insurance company acted unreasonably in denying a claim or in paying benefits. It also allows the court to award up to three times the amount of the actual damage if denial was egregious.

Please thank Governor Gregoire and the sponsors of this legislation, Senator Brian Weinstein and Representative Steve Kirby. The consumers of Washington State finally have a means to level the playing field against the insurance industry.

To view the text of the bill click here.

May 15, 2007

You Can Repair Your Vehicle At The Shop Of Your Choice

The Washington Administrative Code 284.30.3903 provides that an insurance company must make a good faith effort to honor your request for repairs to be made in a specific repair shop and cannot arbitrarily deny your request. The insurance company cannot deny that the repairs be made at a specific shop due to the shop’s hourly rate if this does not result in a higher overall cost of repairs.

If the overall cost of repairs cannot be agreed upon, the insurer must:
(1) Provide you with the names of reputable repair shops reasonably close to you that can satisfactorily complete the repairs for the amount of their estimate; and
(2) Make an appropriate notation in its claim file setting forth the reason it has rejected your request.

If you choose to take your vehicle to a repair facility in which the overall cost for a satisfactory repair is higher than the insurer's estimate, you may be liable for any additional amount above their estimate.

For more information on this or other car accident related insurance issues, contact our offices at www.4injured.com.

May 13, 2007

How Can I Tell If The Insurance Company Is Acting Fairly In Settling My Claim?

The Washington Administrative Code 284.30.330 provides the following specific unfair acts or practices regarding the settlement of:

(1) Misrepresenting pertinent facts or insurance policy provisions.

(2) Failing to acknowledge and act reasonably promptly upon communications with respect to claims arising under insurance policies.

(3) Failing to adopt and implement reasonable standards for the prompt investigation of claims arising under insurance policies.

(4) Refusing to pay claims without conducting a reasonable investigation.

(5) Failing to affirm or deny coverage of claims within a reasonable time after proof of loss statements have been completed.

Continue reading "How Can I Tell If The Insurance Company Is Acting Fairly In Settling My Claim?" »