Putting profit over policy
might be this generationís Unsafe at Any Speed
to Injury: Insurance, Fraud, and the Big Business of Bad Faith, by Ray
Bourhis, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2005, 263 pages.
I think Iíve just
discovered the next Ralph Nader. Heís a San Fransisco lawyer who,
instead of sticking it to the automobile industry, is making a name for
himself by exposing how insurance companies routinely deny legitimate
expensive claims to increase their bottom lines.
By way of disclaimer I
should note the following: as someone whose eyes roll to the back of his
head nearly every time I try to read the fine print of any of my
insurance policies, and as someone whoís been given the run around by a
couple of insurance companies, I found myself to be very sympathetic
Insult to Injury, the first book from Ray Bourhis.
At its center, the book
follows the story of Joan Hangarter, a chiropractor who purchased a
disability policy from UnumProvident that she was told would cover her
financially in the event that she could no longer perform her job. When
she sustained a permanent injury, however, she was denied benefits by
the company when she needed their help the most. As a result she went
bankrupt, lost her home and was forced onto welfare.
Bourhis took on
Hangarterís case against UnumProvident. In the course of the book he
lays out a convincing, if one-sided, case against the insurance giant
and the industry at large, from opening statements to judgment.
Insult uses actual
court testimony and the companyís own incriminating documents to
convincingly showcase how the insurance industry deliberately looks for
ways to avoid paying legitimate claims. These practices range from
hiring private investigators to snoop through policy holdersí personal
lives to one-sided medical evaluations.
Even more infuriating
is that even when companies like UnumProvident are caught and forced to
pay millions in punitive damages, itís proved to be no deterrent to
their unethical behavior. Due to an array of reasons, regulatory and
otherwise, the incentive to screw the public is just too good to pass
If you own an insurance
policy of any kind, you owe it to yourself to read this call to arms.