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The McKinsey Documents

February 9, 2008

Secretive Allstate File Could Show ‘Bad Faith’

Behind the fight between Florida’s insurance commissioner and Allstate Insurance Co. is a mystery that could have come from a John Grisham novel.Secret Allstate documents – known as the McKinsey documents – allegedly show how the insurance giant intentionally has made low-ball claims offers to its customers for years, netting Allstate billions of dollars in the process.

But the McKinsey documents have never seen the light of day.

Trial lawyers who have sued Allstate in recent years have eagerly sought them, and Allstate reluctantly has turned them over to lawyers under subpoena. However, each time a judge has prohibited lawyers from distributing them to the media and the public under a protective order.

Florida now is demanding the documents from Allstate and other insurers in a broad-based investigation of the companies’ business practices, including alleged collusion with other insurers and their claims handling procedures. The issue came to a head last week, when Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty suspended Allstate’s right to issue new insurance policies in Florida. A judge later lifted McCarty’s suspension.

Allstate spokesman Mike Siemienas said the company intends to turn over the documents, but Florida might not find them all that revealing. The McKinsey documents at issue concern auto insurance – not the hot-button issue of homeowners insurance. Some of the strategies laid out in the documents were just ideas and never became Allstate policy, Siemienas said.

Still, Whitney Buchanan, an Albuquerque, N.M., trial lawyer who has seen the elusive documents, said that if Florida’s insurance commissioner receives them, they could go a long way to showing that Allstate has not been playing fair.

“These documents are devastating to them in bad faith litigation,” Buchanan said.

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