Allstate Insurance Company has made it clear that although it is being fined $25,000 daily, it will not produce key records in a case pending in Missouri (thereby becoming public documents) unless the documents are sealed. The documents in question, also known as the McKinsey documents, have been called the “holy grail” for lawyers representing injured people (plaintiff’s lawyers). The McKinsey documents came to be known when an Allstate client, Paul Aldridge, was involved in an automobile accident. Aldridge ran into the back of a truck, which severely injured the other driver. Allstate has not paid for the claim, which happened seven years ago, and Aldridge sued for bad faith.
These documents allegedly show that in the 1990s, Allstate established a questionable claims payment practice – allegedly shortchanging its clients – whereby it was able to increase the company’s already considerable profits. Allstate, on the other hand, claims the documents describe trade secrets used to produce company policies, methods and claim procedures. The Missouri Supreme Court ordered the documents be produced, and a Jackson County, Missouri judge, Judge Manners, ordered the steep fine until the court’s order is obeyed. So far, Allstate has been fined over $2.4 million in this case. Because Allstate is still refusing to pay, Judge Manners is reportedly considering increasing the fine. The case is scheduled to be heard in July, 2008 so the unpaid fines will continue to grow until Allstate produces the documents.
This case is yet another reminder that insurance companies exist for one reason: to make profits. They are not, in this writer’s opinion, usually concerned about their insureds or about people their insureds may injure or kill. Many people are surprised by this type of behavior by insurance companies, especially if it is their own insurance company that is refusing to fairly compensate them for their injuries, or pay a claim for which they are responsible. Insurance company profits, however, are staggering, so if this is considered, no one should be surprised by the manner in which insurance companies approach legitimate bodily or personal injury claims.