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Mark Bello
Mark Bello
Attorney • (877) 377-7848

State Farm Might Be There, But Does It Play Fair

14 comments

Carrying adequate insurance coverage can provide peace of mind by ensuring that you have a safety net if you are ever injured or suffer a loss. We rely on insurance; we assume it will be there when we need it. What happens when your insurance company refuses to provide what you paid for? What happens if you have a policy with uninsured or underinsured coverage and are in an auto accident due to the negligence of someone else?

The idea behind underinsurance and un-insurance coverage is simple: If you’re injured in an auto accident – driver, passenger or pedestrian – and the at-fault driver either does not have insurance or is underinsured, you are entitled to additional payment from your insurance company, up to your coverage limits, to help pay your medical bills. Now what if the injured victim’s insurance company refuses to pay?

Suffering a personal injury in an auto accident is bad enough, but when the insurance company refuses in bad faith to negotiate or settle a claim, the impact can be devastating. That is the case with a Texas man who was seriously injured by an underinsured motorist. At the time of the accident, he had an insurance policy with State Farm that included coverage for uninsured and underinsured motorists. State Farm denied the claims and was not willing to pay on the policy. Was this the right thing to do? No, but insurance companies are not interested in what is right; they will deny, delay, and defend claims out of greed.

While the amount a victim can recover will depend on the specifics of his policy and the limits involved, he should be able to recover damages from his own insurance company, the one who has received and cashed his premium checks, for years! This is another case of the “not so good neighbors” going after the little guy hoping he would not fight back. State Farm was wrong.

Refusing to give into State Farm’s deny, delay, and defend tactics, the victim has filed a lawsuit. He is asking for damages for past and future mental anguish, medical expenses and lost wages. Why was a lawsuit necessary? Because State Farm puts profits over its obligations to its policyholders. Corporate greed causes the plaintiff to fight for his rights through a long litigation process.

Insurance companies continuously take from the poor and give to the rich; they get richer while the innocent victims get poorer. Without holding the insurance companies accountable, these greedy companies will continue to take advantage of injured plaintiffs. Don’t be afraid to stand up to the insurance companies and stand up for your rights.

Mark Bello has thirty-three years experience as a trial lawyer and twelve years as an underwriter and situational analyst in the lawsuit funding industry. He is the owner and founder of Lawsuit Financial Corporation which helps provide legal finance cash flow solutions and consulting when necessities of life litigation funding is needed by plaintiffs involved in pending, personal injury litigation. Bello is a Justice Pac member of the American Association for Justice, Sustaining and Justice Pac member of the Michigan Association for Justice, Business Associate of the Florida, Tennessee, and Colorado Associations for Justice, a member of the American Bar Association as well as their ABA Advisory Committee, the State Bar of Michigan and the Injury Board.

14 Comments

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  1. Gerry McGill says:
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    Misissippi trial lawyers call them “Snakefarm” and their alter ego “All Snake” insurance companies.

  2. Mark Bello says:
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    Amen, Gerry. Happy New Year to you and yours.

  3. bimmertl says:
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    Gee, comments on a Texas case with no specifics at all. That sure gives us both sides of the story.

    Also love the comments from Gerry McGill quoting Mississippi “trial lawyers”. Who’s the most famous trial lawyer there, Dickie Scruggs. Where is he now, Federal prison along with his son. They tried to bribe a federal judge to approve the settlement they wanted against State Farm.

    So we have Bello preaching to the choir, his plaintiff attorney buddies. How informative!

  4. Mark Bello says:
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    Gee, Bim, did you click on the link? It provides the details (as much as are made available) you are seeking. But, the point isn’t State Farm’s behavior in this case, alone. The point is that State Farm engages in this type of conduct all the time! And it doesn’t discriminate; it treats its own policy holders as poorly as it does those that its policy holders harm. Ask Katrina victims about State Farm and its “its a flood, not a storm” defense. Talk to your buddy, Trent Lott, who learned a serious lesson about insurance company shenanigans. The company EARNED its “Snake Farm” label.

    As for Scruggs, you are right; he is a bad guy and he belongs where he is. He is far more atypical of the trial bar than State Farm is of the insurance industry. There is a concerted effort out there, by big insurance, big pharma, the US Chamber, and big tobacco to discredit the civil justice system, trial lawyers, in general, and to turn public opinion away from treating injured people fairly. That’s what slogans like “Lawsuit Abuse” seek to do. These corporate support groups have no interest in curbing “lawsuit abuse”; they want to delay and limit recovery in serious ones. Shame on Scruggs for giving them some ammunition, but insurance executives who lie, cheat and steal, who delay and deny valid and serious claims to make seriously injured folks suffer financially as well as physically, should be locked up in the same cell as Scruggs.

  5. bimmertl says:
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    Sorry, didn’t click on the link. Now I have.

    Nowhere does it say, as you allege, that SF “denied the claims and was not willing to pay on the policy.” The link clearly states the suit arose since SF refused to consider some of his medical benefits.

    Your assertions are that SF denied UIM coverage which is not correct. It is a dispute regarding damages under the UIM coverage. But then misleading people is you MO.

    Talk to Trent Lott? He’s Dickie Scruggs brother in law who resigned from the US Senate the day before Scruggs got indicted. Got any other references for us?

    Thanks for the laughs!

  6. Mark Bello says:
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    So, Bim, are you suggesting that State Farm treated Katrina victims fairly? Are you suggesting that it doesn’t delay its own policy holders’ due benefits? The “laugh” is on you, if you ever find yourself in litigation with your OWN insurance company. Hopefully, you never get seriously injured and forced to litigate with yours. I’ve practiced law and provided funding in this arena for over 35 years and the behavior of insurance companies to its own policy holders is abhorrent. Insurance is the only product in history that penalizes its customers for using it exactly as the customer is supposed to. That is what the post is about. Do you work for State Farm? Who are you, hiding behind “bimmertl”? Come clean. Identify the reason for your pro-insurance bias. It certainly isn’t for the sake of “truth”.

  7. Rich Pyorre says:
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    State Farm has told the IRS it’s agents are independent contractors and thus avoids all of the payroll taxes on approximately $4 Billion annually. This has been going on since 1999 so it’s over $50 Billion and counting. State Farm told the IRS, under penalty of perjury, the State Farm agent attended meetings at their option and there were no penalties for not attending meetings. However 4 agents were terminated for the specific reason of not attending a “mandatory” meeting. An SS-8 was filed with the IRS for determination of employee or independent contractor after the terminations. State Farm once again, under penalty of perjury, told the IRS their are no required meetings for the State Farm agent. There have been mandatory meetings for State Farm agents since 1998.Check with any State Farm agent and ask if they have mandatory meetings?

    State Farm also required the agent to use their tools (computer) in the business and State Farm provides it free of charge. This is yet another breach in the independent contractor determination which would make the agent an employee.

    State Farm has testified in court that the State Farm agent does not own the agency business. They recruit agents telling them they will be business owners but State Farm has testified in court they have the ability to terminate at will. How many independent contractors do you know who can be terminated at will and have their business taken without any reason?

    I am a former agent who was terminated for not attending a mandatory meeting and I have the proof of my statements above. I was also sued by State Farm after they terminated me. State Farm filed suit in Federal court knowing they should have filed in a California Court, but once again they tried to get away with something. We provided proof of the incorrect filing and the case was dismissed in federal court. State Farm re-filed in California court which resulted in a 6 week trial that cost approximately $6,000,000.

    The result of the trial was a jury verdict in our favor of $12,600,000 and nothing for State Farm. However approximately 5 months later State Farm convinced the judge the “jury might have been confused” and he ordered a new trial. A new trial was eventually scheduled and in order to avoid another jury trial State Farm told the judge they were no longer asking for any damages. State Farm argued since they were no longer asking for damages we were not entitled to a jury trial. The judge agreed and set a bench trial which eventually ended when the judge ruled the case to be moot.

    When I was initially sued by State Farm I filed a claim with them as I was a policyholder at the time. State Farm was forced to pay my defense costs which were about $2,000,000. State Farm filed a reservation of rights but they did not file a Bus reservation (reserving the right to recoupe what they paid). In fact their claims people specifically made a point to exclude a Bus reservation. That is until 2 1/2 years later and 5 days before trial when they suddenly filed a Bus reservation. By then it was too late to do anything but proceed with the trial.

    After the trial, which we won, and State Farm appealed State Farm demanded payment of the defense costs. State Farm filed another lawsuit and asked for the money to be repaid.

    The litigation over the payment of defense costs went to trial and a jury found we did not owe State Farm anything. The judge approved jury verdict and State Farm has now appealed.

    You have to understand I was an agent and I had virtually every policy written by State Farm but yet they claimed there was no coverage. We caught State Farm providing inaccurate information to the court. State Farm provided declaration pages showing I did not have the correct coverage. However we provided the court with the actual declaration page which did show the coverage State Farm’s page did not!

    We have won two jury verdicts. State Farm couldn’t win in their first litigation so they are now trying to use their financial power to crush me financially. This is just the tip of the iceberg as to how ruthless State Farm can be.

  8. Mark Bello says:
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    Rich: I am truly sorry you have had to go through all this. Thank you for bringing your personal experiences with this despicable company to the discussion. I’ll say one thing for State Farm. Whether you are a policy holder, an agent (as you were), both (as you were), or the victim of a policy holder’s negligence, State Farm will do its best to figure out a way to delay or deny you, somehow. It is an “equal opportunity screwer”. It does not discriminate against those it will screw.

  9. Avenger says:
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    I’m not sure that Scruggs is that atypical except in the scope of his deceitfulness

    State Farm and Allstate both have really mixed reputation here in Florida – both mostly do the right thing, but when they do screw things up, they tend to do so in a big way

  10. Mark Bello says:
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    Avenger: You are, simply, flat wrong. I have spent almost 40 years in and around the personal injury legal arena. Clearly, men like Scruggs are exceptions; misconduct by Allstate and State Farm is the RULE. if these two have a “mixed” reputation in Florida, then 50% of the populace is misinformed.

  11. Avenger says:
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    Bello: You are, simply, flat wrong. I have spent almost 35 years dealing with insurance companies in a number of capacities. Many of my friends are insured with State Farm (not so many with Allstate) with favorable experiences; misconduct by Allstate and State Farm is NOT the RULE.

    I suspect the trial bar in Michigan is a lot better behaved than these yahoos in Florida. I think at least 25% of them are, to some degree, dishonest (and in some areas like South Florida and Tampa I think the percentage is much higher), certainly enough so that the image of Trial Lawyers, Inc. is tarnished in the eyes of most

  12. Mark Bello says:
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    Avenger: I don’t to hide behind a pseudonym to make my case . Allstate and State Farm claims policies, contrary to the best interests of their policy holders, are a matter of public record. As to plaintiff lawyers, the Chamber and it’s ilk very effectively use a few bad apples to spoil the bunch. There are far more frivolous defenses than frivolous lawsuits. If law enforcement really wanted to clean up “claims fraud”,, it should start with the carriers. As usual, we will agree to disagree.

  13. SteveH says:
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    Mark, excellent comments. You are right on target. State Farm’s bad faith behavior is very well known. They are #1 on the list of bad faith insurance companies on BadFaithInsurance.org. They are also in the top 3 on several lists discussing the “worst insurance companies.” Can’t wait for the federal government to investigate and prosecute them.

  14. Mark Bello says:
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    Steve: Thanks for the visit and the cite to badfaithinsurance.org. I won’t hold my breath, expecting government investigations or prosecutions on insurance company “delay, deny” tactics, any time soon. It’s a shame that politicians waste their time touting “tort reform” instead of pursuing the real civil justice system abusers: The insurance companies and goliath corporations.