‘Satisfied’ Customer Now Suing State Farm Insurance

By Joseph Rhee

Nov 21, 2006 10:49am

One of State Farm Insurance’s "satisfied" customers on the Mississippi Gulf Coast is now suing the company, joining hundreds of other policyholders who allege State Farm defrauded them over their Hurricane Katrina insurance claims. Thomas McIntosh’s case was shown on our 20/20 report, which detailed allegations that State Farm supervisors in many cases demanded that Hurricane Katrina damage reports by buried or replaced or changed so that the company would not have to fully pay policyholders’ claims in Mississippi.  After our report aired, State Farm released a statement saying that McIntosh, in fact, "did receive payment and has declared that he is satisfied with his payment and the way his claims were handled by State Farm." THE BLOTTER RECOMMENDS The Case of the Missing Engineering Report Whistleblowers Sued for Speaking Out and Wearing State Farm Jackets on 20/20 Click Here to Check Out Who’s Blowing Hot, Cool and Smoke Today on Our Homepage After learning that we planned to mention McIntosh’s case in our report, State Farm asked him to meet with two attorneys representing the company.  McIntosh says the attorneys presented him with what they called two "confidential" versions of an engineering report on his home dated Oct. 20, 2005.  These reports indicated that the damage to the McIntosh home was largely caused by water, which was not covered in his insurance policy. McIntosh says, as a result, he was only paid about $36,000 on his claim despite suffering losses of over $1 million. After viewing the engineering reports, McIntosh signed a statement written by the attorneys, acknowledging that he was "satisfied" and had "no dispute with State Farm over any insurance issues relating to the adjustment or payment of any claims by State Farm."  However, after his meeting with the State Farm attorneys, ABC News contacted McIntosh and made him aware of an earlier, pre-existing engineering report on his home.  This report, dated Oct. 12, concluded that "the interior damage of the structure is primarily the result of the failure of the windows, wall and doors due to the wind."  Wind damage is covered under State Farm policies.  A copy of the first report also included the image of an attached "Post-it" note that read: "Put in wind file – do not pay bill – do not discuss."  State Farm has told ABC that despite an extensive search of its files, it cannot find any record of McIntosh’s first engineering report. McIntosh has retained well-known Mississippi trial lawyer Richard Scruggs and has sued State Farm for allegedly undertaking "a fraudulent, illegal, tortious, and unethical course of conduct."  The lawsuit also states McIntosh only signed the document provided by the State Farm attorneys "out of fear that if he did not cooperate his insurability would be jeopardized." State Farm has not yet responded to the McIntosh lawsuit.  However, a State Farm spokesman has said that the allegations are contrary to the way the company does business, and only a small percentage of claims have resulted in lawsuits.  Despite the fact that McIntosh is now suing the company, State Farm’s statement declaring him a satisfied customer is still posted on the company’s website. 

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