Does Your Car Insurance Carrier Penalize You When You Were Not At Fault?


The Consumer Federation of America recently released new research that shows that safe drivers often see car insurance increases when they are involved in accidents  caused by other drivers.

car_insuranceAccording to the news release, in this new trend, some insurance carriers are penalizing their own customers when their customer did nothing wrong. It used to be that if you were involved in a collision that was not your fault, your own insurance company would not raise your rates. Makes perfect sense. Why should you be penalized when you did nothing wrong?

However, recently, a number of insurance companies decided to increase their profits by hitting their customers with significantly increased premiums when they had the misfortune to be involved in a crash that was not their fault. Two of the biggest New York carriers, Progressive and GEICO, were among the worst offenders of this new policy.

imagesInnocent drivers who don’t cause accidents should not be charged more because someone else hit them, J. Robert Hunter, CFA’s director of insurance and the former insurance commissioner of Texas, said in the news release. “Most people know that if they cause an accident or get a ticket they could face a premium increase, but they don’t expect to be punished if a reckless driver careens into them.”

CFA urged lawmakers around the country to prohibit penalties on innocent drivers. “Penalizing safe drivers hit by another car is not only very unfair; it also discourages them from filing legitimate claims,” Hunter said. “Lawmakers and regulators need to protect consumers from being punished when they’ve done nothing more than use the policy they have already paid for.”

CFA compared two good drivers – the only differences reflected in their socio-economic circumstances rather than their driving records – and found the following:

  • Higher-income drivers paid $78 more on average after a not-at-fault accident.
  • Moderate-income drivers paid $208 more on average after a not-at-fault accident.
  • Higher-income drivers faced a 6.6% penalty on average after a not-at-fault accident.
  • Moderate-income drivers faced a 9.6% penalty on average after a not-at-fault accident.
  • Excluding State Farm customers, who were never penalized, the average surcharges jumped to $99 (8.3%) for higher-income drivers and $264 (12.1%) for moderate-income drivers.

My suggestion: Contact your insurance agent and ask if your carrier has a policy of increasing premiums in not-at-fault crashes?

If so, I recommend you contact other insurance carriers as there are many carriers who do not increase premiums in this situation.

Thanks for reading,



James B. Reed
NY & PA Injury & Malpractice Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Office: (607)733-8866
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)
Blogs: and


The Worst Insurance Companies in America Revealed!

waveland, MSImage by Tbass Efendi via Flickr

Let’s face it, Plaintiff’s attorney’s don’t much care for insurance companies. We fight with them all day, every day in order to try to get them to honor their responsibilities to our clients. The insurance companies fight us tooth and nail every step of the way by denying and delaying legitimate claims in the hope that we will accept less compensation than our clients are entitled to. When you deal with these tactics every day like we do, you grow so used to them that it almost seems normal. Every once in a while, though, new information comes to light that reminds us just how abusive and deceptive insurance companies really are.

A newly released report compiled after reviewing thousands of pages of documents, complaints, testimony and financial records of insurance companies from across the nation provided us with a refresher on just how bad insurance companies treat people. The abuses it reveals are enough to turn your stomach, and the common tactic of “delay, deny, defend” rings true to those of us battling in the trenches with these insurance giants every day. This is certainly not the first such report that identifies the tactics used by insurance companies to defraud their policy holders and lawful claimants. What is new, though, is that they name the 10 worst insurance companies in the country. While we have our own opinions formed over decades of dealing with insurance companies, it is nice to finally have some empirical evidence to rely on when we tell our friends, family and clients who the worst companies really are. Without further adieu, the worst insurance companies in America are:

1. Allstate Insurance Company. Is this really a surprise? The supposed good hands people have had the boxing gloves on for years, no matter what some actor who played a president on the show 24 may tell us.

2. UNUM Insurance. One of the largest disability insurance carriers, has been mistreating their insureds longer than anyone in this office can remember.

3. AIG. The largest insurance company in the world, AIG has been referred to as the new Enron because multi billion dollar corporate fraud.

4. State Farm. Another shocker here. The Company has gone to great lengths to avoid paying claims, including forging signatures on earthquake waivers after the deadly Northridge earthquakes, and altering engineering reports regarding damage after Hurricane Katrina.

5. Conseco. This company sells long term care policies, typically to the elderly. Unfortunately, Conseco uses the deteriorating health of its policyholders to its advantage because the company knows if it waits long enough to pay out claims, its customers will die.

6. Wellpoint. A health insurer, Wellpoint routinely cancels the policies of pregnant women and chronically ill patients.

7. Farmers Insurance Group. Consistently ranks at or near the bottom of homeowner satisfaction surveys. The company offers pizza parties to adjusters who meet low payment goals.

8. United Health. Physicians report that reimbursement rates are so low and payment is delayed so long that patient health is compromised. Money that should have been spent on medical treatment for policyholders has instead gone to the company’s former CEO, who faced criminal and civil charges for back dating stock options.

9. Torchmark. Founded by its own admission as little more than a scam, Torchmark has preyed on low-income Southerners for over 100 years. The company has come under fire for a variety of transgressions, including charging minority policyholders more than whites.

10. Liberty Mutual. Like Allstate and State Farm, Liberty Mutual has adopted “deny, delay and defend” tactics. The company has also gone one step further than simple claims-handling abuses by indulging in what regulators describe as systematic bid rigging.

You can read the full report here.

While these are the ten worst insurance companies nationwide, I could add a few companies to the list who operate in Elmira, the Southern Tier of New York, and the Northern Tier of Pennsylvania. The companies I am thinking of may be too small to make a national list, but any Twin Tier resident who has ever dealt with them could tell you a story or two. I won’t list them here, but if you ask me privately, I will be more than happy to give you my own top ten list of the worst insurance companies.

Thanks for reading,

Adam M. Gee, Esq.
New York and Pennsylvania Personal Injury and Malpractice Attorney
Ziff, Weiermiller, Hayden & Mustico, LLP
303 William Street
Elmira, NY 14901
Phone: (607)733-8866
Fax: (607)732-6062
Email: [email protected]

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]