Maryland Reaches Agreement with Allstate to Revise ‘Do I Need An Attorney” Literature

July 26, 2000

Maryland Insurance Commissioner Steven B. Larsen and Allstate Insurance Company, one of the state’s top-selling insurers, reached an agreement in which Allstate will modify its “Do I Need An Attorney?” program.

In Maryland and other states, Allstate provides information to individuals with a claim against an Allstate-insured driver to assist the individual in deciding whether to hire a lawyer to pursue the claim.

“When consumers who are not represented by attorneys file claims with Allstate, they are provided ‘Do I need an attorney?’ literature,” Larsen said. “It is important that any such literature be accurate and not inappropriately discourage consumers from seeking legal advice.”

The literature, written in question and answer format, would pose such questions as, “will an attorney make the claim settlement process faster for me?, should I seek the advice of an attorney? and how much are attorneys’ fees and who pays for them?”

Commissioner Larsen requested that language in the form suggesting that attorney involvement would prolong settlement negotiations or reduce the claimant’s net recovery (the amount after attorney fees are paid) be balanced with other information suggesting the benefits of attorney involvement.

The consent order between the Maryland Insurance Administration and Allstate was the result of an investigation prompted by complaints from Maryland lawyers. Under the consent order, Allstate must modify the program to ensure accurate information will be provided to consumers, both verbally and in writing. In addition, Allstate must obtain written approval from the Commissioner if it decides to use any other form intended to provide information to consumers regarding the claims-settlement process.

Allstate agreed to make the requested modifications and to obtain the Commissioner’s approval of future changes. Commissioner Larsen acknowledged that Allstate has a legitimate interest in trying to control the cost of claims, as long as measures to control costs are reasonable.

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