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Here’s why insurance companies should not be running universal healthcare:

Attorneys for homeowners suing State Farm Insurance Cos. after Hurricane Katrina have long accused the insurer of pressuring engineers to alter reports on storm-damaged homes so that policyholders’ claims could be denied.

Now, some of these lawyers claim they have evidence to prove their allegation — internal e-mails from an engineering firm that helped State Farm adjust claims after the Aug. 29, 2005, hurricane destroyed thousands of homes on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

State Farm denies pressuring engineers to change their conclusions, but the e-mails, obtained Tuesday and Wednesday by The Associated Press, indicate the company was threatening to dismiss Raleigh, N.C.-based Forensic Analysis & Engineering Corp. less than two months after Katrina.

State Farm and other insurers say their homeowner policies cover damage from wind but not rising water, including wind-driven storm surge.

Zach Scruggs, an attorney who is part of a legal team that sued State Farm on behalf of hundreds of homeowners, said Forensic turned over the e-mails as part of the pretrial discovery process for one of the lawsuits.

The e-mails “confirm everything that we have always suspected,” Scruggs said. “What it says is pretty shocking. This outlines the whole scheme of theirs.”

The e-mails exchanged between Forensic president and CEO Robert Kochan and Randy Down, the firm’s vice president of engineering services, outline complaints against their firm’s work from Alexis King, a State Farm manager in Mississippi.

Kochan, in an e-mail dated Oct. 17, 2005, says the firm will continue working with State Farm, but talks about needing to “redo the wording” of a report after a discussion with King “such that the conclusions are better supported.”

The e-mail also says King didn’t want local engineers to inspect properties because they were “too emotionally involved” and were “working very hard to find justifications to call it wind damage when the facts only show water induced damage.” She was also apparently upset that a report was based upon eyewitness accounts, the e-mail said.

In a reply dated Oct. 18, 2005, Down questioned the insurer’s motivations and questioned if there was an ethical problem with State Farm telling the firm what to put in reports. He also suggested that on another occasion, State Farm asked the firm to remove information from a report because “they would then have to settle.”

“I really question the ethics of someone who wants to fire us simply because our conclusions don’t match hers,” Down wrote in an e-mail dated Oct. 18, 2005.

“But what about the obvious fact that SF would love to see every report come through as water damage so that they can make the minimum settlement,” he wrote.

More at the link.

Written by Leisureguy

14 April 2007 at 8:31 am

Posted in Business, Daily life

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