The Benefits of Using Independent Agents in Lawsuit Settlements
A class-action lawsuit has been filed against Allstate Insurance Company by numerous former Allstate agents. The lawsuit claims that the insurance company broke its contract with its various NAPAA member agents in a number of major ways: (1) by making it hard for agents to sell their current books of business; (2) by failing to consider new agents when renewing their insurance contracts; (3) by requiring agents to lie about their experience with Allstate Insurance… and (4) by discriminating against qualified applicants for insurance quotes.
The lawsuit was filed by the National Association of State Commercial Truck Dealers, Inc. (NASC), Insurance Agents for Independent Sales Rep (IIS), and the United States Department of Justice, amongst others. The lawsuit is in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. The parties are seeking damages on account of violations of the National Association of State Commercial Truck Dealers’ (NAPSID) Act, the Wholesale Discount Plan Act, and the Discounted Liability Act. The state of Illinois is also involved in the suit. According to the suit, Allstate ignored repeated requests by its agents for quotations on particular items, such as commercial car policies, and did not provide these agents access to sufficient data on the quotes they required to make an informed decision. Additionally, Allstate did not permit its agents to contact competing insurers to obtain further information on quotes for other policies, despite a requirement under the WHP Act that insurance providers provide this information.
The plaintiffs argue that this evidence proves that Allstate deliberately violates the terms of its insurance policy, and forces plaintiffs to accept an exceedingly low rate or face a future where they may be forced to file suit in an attempt to recover the funds they lost due to the insurer’s alleged actions. In addition to seeking compensation for their losses, the complaint seeks damages based on pain and suffering, past and future medical care, loss of income, future payments, and in some cases even more punitive damages. This latter amount is referred to as a “limit of damages” and is a percentage of the actual amount the plaintiff will receive for their claim.
On May 5th, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois granted class certification to a class of plaintiffs filing suit against Allstate. This decision is significant because it allows the plaintiffs to become independent contractors with the insurer, instead of being bound to Allstate through long-term contracts. Class certification means that a lawsuit can proceed against Allstate and it will be responsible for paying Allstate the settlement money, minus any fees it may owe. Once the case becomes a class action, plaintiffs must bring their case in a civil court instead of in a trial before a judge. However, they still must follow the same process as if they were filing individually.
It should be noted that plaintiffs should not be afraid of approaching their current insurance company about settling their lawsuit. Many plaintiffs have found that their present insurance company is willing to settle out of court, sometimes for a substantial amount of money. In fact, many attorneys and law firms offer a full range of settlement services to clients who need them, regardless of their financial situation. It is also important to note that other insurance companies have similar practices as to how they handle lawsuits, which is why contacting other insurance companies for a pre-settlement quote is helpful.
Once you have received your settlement check, you should make sure you distribute it among your lawyers, medical professionals, and any other people you are considering paying for damages. Keep in mind that you will need a large amount of money to pay for your attorney fees, so making the money available to those who will benefit most should be your primary focus. Once you have made your decision, keep in mind that there are many things you can do to protect your legal rights once your lawsuit is resolved, including consulting with experienced lawsuit advisers, obtaining professional liability insurance and keeping up with your own health insurance agents.