Volume 10, Issue 1 - January/February 2008

Insurance Talk
policy briefs

LYNX to Charge for Manual Checks 

Effective January 8, LYNX Services has instituted a fee of $1.50 per job paid by manual check. The company notes that the fee will be multiplied by the number of jobs included on each manual check issued, according to an e-mail sent to network participants on November 30. For example, ten jobs paid by manual check will result in a $15 fee.

In order to avoid the fee, companies can opt to join the company’s Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) program and have payments to be issued via direct deposit.

In other news, Dallas-based Gainsco Insurance has selected LYNX to administer its auto glass claims program. Gainsco issues auto insurance policies in Arizona, Florida, Nevada, New Mexico, South Carolina and Texas. LYNX took over the glass claims as of December 3.Gainsco is requesting that all glass claims be reported by the insured only and that all invoices be sent directly to LYNX Services.

Former Allstate Employee Sentenced for Tax Evasion 
Former Allstate employee Robert Groebner was sentenced to one year probation, ten months of home confinement with electronic monitoring and a fine of $10,000 on December 6, 2007, for filing a false income tax return. In addition, Groebner, who was sentenced in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Illinois, must pay $119,680 in restitution.

In the original complaint filed by the U.S. attorney in August, Groebner, who once served as an auto damage adjuster for Allstate Insurance, is said to have demanded and received approximately $60,000 in cash payments from three owners of body shops in the Chicago area, in exchange for the body shops to remain on Allstate’s PRO shop list and to receive the same volume of referrals from the company. He did not report these earnings on his 2001 tax return, which led to the aforementioned case. 

Heinauer Teaches Auto Glass Installation Course
Paul Heinauer, president of Charleston, S.C.-based Glasspro Inc., recently began teaching a new continuing education course about auto glass installations to local insurance agents. Heinauer is a certified South Carolina Department of Insurance instructor. The new course is designed to update insurance agents on the importance of proper auto glass replacement procedures and their impact on driver safety, according to Glasspro. Agents will receive four continuing education credits approved by the South Carolina Department of Insurance.

AIG Fined $20,000 for Minnesota’s Short Pays
AIG Personal Lines Claims has been issued a consent order by the Minnesota Commissioner of Commerce stating in part that AIG and others “paid an alleged ‘prevailing rate’ to Minnesota body shops that was less than the total charged by the body shops for certain repair costs.” The Consent Order has imposed a civil penalty of $20,000 and a cease and desist order from any continued violations of Minn. Stat. § 72A.201, subd. 6(2)(a) (2006). 

The statute requires insurers “… to pay all costs for the satisfactory repair to the insured’s or claimant’s vehicles.” 

Insurance commissioner Glenn Wilson also ordered AIG to reimburse all the insureds and claimants referenced in the order for their out-of-pocket expenses paid to the body shops. 

The Alliance of Automotive Service Providers, Minnesota (AASP-MN) says it has been working closely with Wilson’s office toward this conclusion. Over the past year, AASP-MN submitted dozens of unfair claims practice reports to Wilson’s office, the association says, and many of the reports documented “short pays” from AIG to the body shops for their hourly paint and material rates. AASP-MN has also urged its membership to stop absorbing short pays and instead to inform their customers that they will be responsible for their insurance company’s failure to pay reasonable rates. 

“When these practices result in harm to consumers, regulatory agencies are much more likely to intervene and take corrective action,” says AASP-MN executive director Judell Anderson in a press release issued by the organization. 

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