Volume 10, Issue 4 - July/August 2008

Insurance Talk
policy briefs

Connecticut Court Rules Against Hartford Insurance

The Connecticut Supreme Court recently ruled in favor of several auto body shops in a case alleging that Hartford Fire Insurance Co. was engaging in steering practices. The ruling in Artie’s Auto Body Inc. Et Al. vs. Hartford Fire Insurance Co. notes that when Hartford insureds are seeking auto body repairs, “customer care team specialists are instructed to direct the insureds to the closest preferred shop through The Hartford’s customer repair service program.”

An economic consultant, Frederick B. Jennings Jr., testified on behalf of the plaintiffs, and proposed a method to calculate the effect of the aforementioned policy on non-preferred shops in Connecticut. First, Jennings looks at “the percentage of claims that would have flowed to preferred shops in the absence of any steering.” He then compared the numbers of specialists and their success rates, to determine that “approximately 40 percent of all referrals to preferred shops would have gone to those shops without steering.”

However, he argued, “Correspondingly, approximately 60 percent of all referrals to preferred shops would have gone to non-preferred shops without steering,” according to the ruling. 

The court writes, “We conclude that the trial court was well within its discretion in finding that the plaintiffs satisfied their burden of demonstrating that generalized, class-wide evidence may be used to prove that The Hartford engaged in unfair or deceptive practices that caused each of the putative class members to suffer an ascertainable loss.” 

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