Ameriprise/American Family: Auto Accident Claims and Settlements

A look at Ameriprise Financial’s website will tell you that auto insurance appears to be mostly an afterthought. The company does everything—financial planning, banking, retirement and annuities, investments and lending.

The Wisconsin based company has been around since 1894, but it is a relative newcomer to the car insurance field. It started writing policies about twenty years ago. They do not have a significant market share in Maryland or Washington, D.C. -- thriving mostly in California -- but Ameriprise seems to be adding market share in the Baltimore-Washington area.   The company has done a good job of leveraging its relationship with Costco to sell insurance in Costco's stores and its website.  (Our lawyers have brought claims against both of these companies.)

In 2019, Ameriprise Auto & Home was sold to American Family for $1 billion.  Eventually, Ameriprise's afterthought became a real afterthought.  

Dealing with Ameriprise on Injury Settlement Claims Before Filing Lawsuitsameriprise

Ameriprise is an enormous company. Our accident lawyers have found them to be a challenge to deal with on car crash claims. Ameriprise is typically slow to move, and many clients come to us because they cannot make any progress settling their claims by themselves. 

One of their unstated goals must be to bury accident victims in paperwork before paying claims. Recent surveys indicate that, even among Ameriprise clients, customer satisfaction is only at about 67%. Take these surveys with a grain of salt - their methodology may be very flawed - but they do comport with our law firm's experience with Ameriprise.

Sadly, in many cases, the best course of action in an accident claim with Ameriprise is to file a lawsuit. They do not have in-house counsel in Maryland (and I doubt other jurisdictions), so Ameriprise is forced to hire a lawyer who will often force them look at the case more seriously.  Rollins Smalkin, a Baltimore firm, is doing some work defending Ameriprise).

At this point in the game, some level of sanity is often restored if only because we can deal with a law firm that understands Maryland law and can rationalize with Ameriprise. We find that many Ameriprise claims that we are forced to file lawsuits for settle before trial when an experienced defense lawyer enters the equation.

Ameriprise and Personal Injury Protection (PIP)

One great way to judge insurance companies is to see just how ticky-tacky they are with their insureds, people that are paying them money every month for coverage.  In Ameriprise's case, the answer is pretty ticky-tacky. 

Beginning late last year, our lawyers noticed that Ameriprise was trying to require recorded statements from our clients before paying on PIP car crash claims. (PIP is no-fault coverage that pays for, among other things, medical expenses and lost wages (See our main PIP webpage here.) There are very few insurance companies in Maryland asking for a recorded statement as a matter of course for a PIP claim. It just underscores what we are dealing with in Ameriprise.

Ameriprise Settlements and Verdicts

·       Schneider v Lopez (Washington 2017) $210,000: Plaintiff, an 83-year-old retired female, was a passenger in a vehicle driven by her husband when defendant ran a stop-sign and t-boned her vehicle. The impact caused the plaintiff’s vehicle to spin around and slam into a utility pole. Plaintiff’s alleged injuries included a prolapsed bladder requiring surgical repair, and shoulder, cervical, lumbar and right superior iliac joint sprains. Ameriprise (plaintiff’s UIM insurer) and State Farm (the defendant’s insurance carrier) agreed to a joint settlement of $210k.

·       Mershon v American Family Ins (Ohio 2017) $70,250: Plaintiffs came to a stop for a traffic light at a busy intersection and were rear-ended by defendant driver who was insured by American Family Insurance Company. Plaintiffs suffered various unspecified injuries and sought compensation for bodily injuries, pain and suffering, medical expenses, disability, lost enjoyment of life, and loss of consortium. Defendants denied liability and causation and the case went to trial where a jury awarded $70k.

·       Plaintiff v Defendant (California 2017) $120,000: 41-year-old male plaintiff was riding his bicycle when defendant made a negligent left turn and struck him. Plaintiff’s alleged injuries included head injury with post-concussion syndrome; facial lacerations requiring 29 sutures to the nose, lips and chin; shoulder strain; acute cervical strain; knee contusion; and tinnitus. Ameriprise was defendant’s auto insurance carrier. The case went to mediation and ultimately settled for $120,000.

·       Bermudez v American Family (Colorado 2016) $114,646: Male plaintiff in his mid-30s was t-boned by the defendant at an intersection and suffered torn shoulder requiring arthroscopic surgery to repair. Plaintiff agreed to $25k policy limit settlement with at-fault driver and then pursued his insurer, American Family Insurance, for UIM benefits. He eventually sued American Family alleging that the company wrongfully incentivized its employees to make low settlement offers, and acted in bad faith when delaying and denying his benefit demands. Jury awarded $114k.  

·       Hamad v Feiner (New Jersey 2016) $294,500: Ameriprise was one of 3 insurance carriers that agreed to settle the claims in this case. The injured plaintiffs were 3 minors who were passengers in a vehicle that was hit head-on by defendant. All 3 minors suffered various injuries, the most serious of which was a broken thighbone. Ameriprise was the insurer for the at-fault driver and contributed policy limits of $40k to the joint settlement.

·       Dekker v Shoaff (Indiana 2013) $400,000: A 24-year-old female plaintiff reportedly sustained a concussion with loss of consciousness, facial scarring over her eye, and liponecrosis of her right knee joint when defendant lost control of his vehicle and struck her. The plaintiff sued defendant and also brought a claim against her insurer, Ameriprise, for UIM benefits. The jury awarded $400,000 which was reduced to $368k based on plaintiff’s 3.5% share of comparative fault. 

Our firm has been seeing a lot more Ameriprise cases in past years. We are accustomed to their delay tactics and their ridiculous defense postures. If you have been in an accident involving an Ameriprise insured, contact us at 1-800-553-8082, or click here for a free evaluation of your case.

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