During the Super Bowl, Nationwide insurance company ran a commercial that upset many viewers because of its somber overtone. After showing a child partaking in a number of activities, the camera focuses on him and he deadpans, “I couldn’t grow up because I died from an accident.”
People don’t like to envision a worst-case scenario, especially when it comes to their own families. But, we live in a world where tragedy can strike at any time. It’s rarely the insurance companies that look out for victims’ best interests. Many people are forced to retain attorneys for the sole reason that they have treated unfairly by an insurance carrier — especially in a state like New York, where the insurance companies have no fear of claims against them for bad faith.
Obviously, it’s beneficial for insurance companies for fewer incidents to occur. The fewer the incidents, the fewer claims there are that they need to pay.
But if an incident occurs, insurance companies typically resort to any tactics necessary to ensure that the sum they pay is as low as possible — regardless of whether that fairly compensates the claimant.
So, it’s ironic that an insurance company states: “…we believe in protecting what matters most: your kids.”
If they were honest, the statement would be, “We believe in protecting what matters most: our bottom line.”
But, it’s not just the insurance companies who bear responsibility for treating victims badly. In New York State, the family members of the child who appears in the commercial would not be able to recover any damages for the grief they experienced — and continue to experience — as a result of the child’s death if it were brought upon by the negligence of another person or company.
Money isn’t a magic potion to make everything okay. It’s the only remedy, however, that our system of justice can provide. By disallowing such a recovery, the legislature has decided that grieving families have no value, and that is an injustice.
To fix these issues, New York State should pass laws to curtail acts of bad faith by insurance companies, and to allow grieving families to recover for the loss of a loved one that was caused by someone else’s negligence.
These issues may make people uncomfortable, but unfortunately there are many families for whom these issues are real and personal.