Volume 14, Issue 5 - September/October 2012

Insurance Talk
Policy brief

COMPANY NEWS
Alpine Glass Inc. Receives Fourth Six-Figure
Award Against Insurer Short-Pays


Minneapolis-based Alpine Glass Inc. has been awarded $133,862.04 from Liberty Mutual Insurance in payment for more than 350 short-paid invoices ranging from July 28, 2005, through July 6, 2011, according to the arbitration award signed by arbitrator Robert K. Randall.

The matter was heard before the Arbitration Tribunals of the American Arbitration Association.

The case arose from Alpine’s allegations that Liberty failed to reimburse them for expenditures accrued over the course of nearly six years of glass repair and replacement claims for vehicles insured by Liberty. Liberty, however, claimed that Alpine’s charges exceeded the amount necessary to cover such cost of repair and replacement and that their payments are “consistent with competitive prices in the area.”

As a result of the disagreement, Randall was left to decide on the validity of Alpine’s assignment from Liberty, the full scope of work necessary for repair, the amount to which Alpine was entitled, and whether or not Liberty had committed a breach of contract. Randall agreed to the legitimacy of Alpine’s assignment, as well as the fact that Alpine submitted 354 valid invoices.

Alpine did not receive the full amount of compensation originally requested, however. Randall reduced the original $154,248.01 request for compensation down to the awarded figure. The arbitrator’s award was less a mobile fee of $920 considered a part of regular business non-specific to the Liberty matter, a mouldings fee in the amount of $7,075.97 which was considered already covered under the re-payment of the windshield, and a reduction of $35 per claim ($12,390) to make the request more reasonable.

“Even though we have had enormous success seeking fair compensation through arbitration, we would always prefer to work something out with the insurers,” Mike Reid, president of Alpine Glass, told AGRR™ magazine. “Often, we are able to. In this case, we tried to settle before the hearing and offered to settle for much less than what we were awarded by the arbitrator but Liberty was unwilling to be reasonable.”

Alpine’s attorney, Chuck Lloyd of Livgard & Lloyd, added, “Alpine intends to continue to pursue just compensation and if that means litigation against insurers, all indications are that Alpine is fully prepared to go down that path and do so very successfully.”

Officials from Liberty Mutual had not yet responded to requests for comment at press time.

Louisville Television Station Airs Hidden Camera Investigation on DNS Auto Glass
A Louisville, Ky., television station, WAVE 3, recently aired a hidden camera investigation about insurance fraud. The station allegedly caught a sales representative employed with DNS Auto Glass attempting to file a claim with an insurance company for a windshield replacement when the windshield only suffered a small, repairable crack.

During the investigation, an undercover vehicle with a windshield chip about the size of a pencil head was used. On the video, the technician tells the undercover reporter that he can get a free windshield because Kentucky residents are not charged a deductible when comprehensive coverage is possessed.

Shortly after the report aired, AGRR™ magazine spoke with Jeff Searles, owner of DNS Auto Glass, about the report.

“There was never a claim filed and it was not put through insurance. There was never a job set up or an appointment made,” says Searles. “We are still in the process of investigating this. The salesperson who was represented on the video cannot be found to exist in any of our referral sources. It’s not a name on any of our rosters. The former employee who they spoke to was very disappointing because I am not sure where he got his information from. I was very perplexed that he didn’t feel like the policies applied to him.

“It is impossible for anybody to control or have all of their employees do everything right 100 percent of the time,” says Searles. “We can just direct them and support the authorities and that’s all that we can do.”

Searles says that if an investigation showed any fraud the company would immediately terminate the offending employee and cooperate with the proper authorities.

“We are inspected regularly. We have yet to have one formal complaint to us from any insurance company as it relates to fraud,” Searles says. “We don’t want to do it wrong. If someone is committing fraud then we want to know about it.”

The Kentucky Department of Insurance currently is reviewing the report.

DNS Auto Glass has nine locations throughout Florida, Kentucky, South Carolina, New York and Connecticut.


AGRR
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