From the Holocaust to the Shores of Hawaii


Sightings from The Catbird Seat

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Zurich Financial Services ( ) is an insurance-based financial services provider with a global network that focuses its activities on its key markets in North America and Europe. Founded in 1872, Zurich is headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland. Through its offices in more than 50 countries, 62,000 Zurich employees serve clients in more than 120 countries….

The Zurich Financial Services Group was created in Sept 1998, through the merger of the Zurich Group with the financial services business of B.A.T. Industries (British-American Tobacco).

The third-largest insurance company in Europe (after AXA and Allianz), Zurich Financial Services offers insurance, reinsurance, and asset management through subsidiaries, Farmers, Zurich Kemper Life, Universal Underwriters, and Scudder Kemper in the U.S., and Allied Dunbar, Eagle Star, Zurich Municipal, and Threadneedle Asset Management in the U.K.

Headquartered in Switzerland, the Group has $375 billion in assets under management, $44 billion in premiums, over 30 million customers, offices in close to 60 countries and 68,000 employees.


Catbird Notes: In 1990, Hawaii’s giant charitable trust Kamehameha Schools Bishop Estate, along with Zurich Financial Services, Marsh & McLennan, and other investors, established Centre Reinsurance Company in Bermuda. In 1993, Zurich purchased all of Centre’s shares and now the company operates as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Zurich Financial Services Group. And, for even more connections, GO TO > > > Paradise Paved .


March 27, 2006

Zurich American Settles Insurance Probe

By MICHAEL GORMLEY, Associated Press

Thousands of companies and governments nationwide that bought insurance through a broker expecting the lowest rates will share in the proceeds from a $153 million settlement of a bid-rigging scheme involving Zurich American Insurance Co.

The victims, which include small, mom-and-pop retailers, school districts, governments and large corporations, will receive $88 million, said New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, who led the investigation and announced the settlement Monday.

Zurich American, a subsidiary of Switzerland’s Zurich Financial Services, also agreed to pay penalties and costs of the investigation to the three states in the settlement: $39 million to New York, and $13 million each to Connecticut and Illinois.

Zurich, which admitted no wrongdoing in agreeing to the settlement, will also adopt reforms. Among them will be an end to “contingent commissions” in excess casualty insurance, the line of business that Spitzer said involved bid-rigging. Zurich will also stop paying contingent commissions on other products if 65 percent of the industry drops the fees that Spitzer said can cause conflicts of interest that hurt consumers.

Zurich will also disclose more about its transactions.

“With our significantly enhanced compliance structure, and our companywide commitment to ethical behavior and outstanding service, we have in place standards that promote the best interests of our customers, agents, brokers and Zurich,” said Zurich Financial CEO James Schiro.

The settlement is part of Spitzer’s investigation of Marsh & McLennan Companies Inc., the nation’s largest property and casualty brokerage. Marsh settled with Spitzer last year for $850 million over allegations of bid rigging and price fixing as well as hidden commissions.

Zurich was one of the companies Spitzer and state Insurance Superintendent Howard Mills accused of participating in an insurance bid-rigging scheme that used phony bids to fool customers into choosing a pre-determined company within the scheme. The scheme eventually provided all participants with steered contracts and prices not determined by a free market.

“Zurich’s willingness to acknowledge problems, adopt reforms and provide appropriate compensation to customers will help the company move forward to help promote full and fair competition in the insurance industry,” Spitzer said.

Spitzer said Zurich was among a few companies that would submit bogus high bids to help steer some contract to one company and could expect to have the same done for them.

In announcing the settlement, Spitzer cited an e-mail from a Marsh broker to a Zurich underwriter seeking a phony bid for an insurance contract that Spitzer said was being steered to American International Group Inc. The e-mail included: “Can you give me a protective indication on this. It is an AIG renewal and AIG already quoted it so just give me a bad price with higher per occ. attachment and then we can be done with this.”

Spitzer said Zurich provided the phony quote in the deception of a Marsh customer.

“Our investigation revealed that Zurich schemed with insurance brokers and other insurers to rig bids, behavior that led policyholders to pay more for insurance,” said Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. “Zurich also secretly paid contingent commissions to brokers in exchange for the brokers steering business to Zurich.

Earlier this month, Zurich agreed to pay nearly $172 million in a separate deal with nine states to settle allegations of bid-rigging and price-fixing in the commercial insurance market. Policyholders in 50 states will receive $151.7 million in refunds in the settlement with California, Florida, Hawaii*, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas and West Virginia. Those nine states will get an additional $20 million for investigative and attorney costs.

“The agreements concluded within the last two weeks represent significant progress in Zurich’s efforts to resolve the uncertainty associated with certain industrywide practices,” said Zurich CEO Schiro. “This industry, like others before it, is undergoing a transformation, and these agreements will bring greater clarity to how Zurich will move forward to serve producers and customers in this new era of transparency.”

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*For more on Zurich and the Hawaii frauds and schemes, GO TO > > > Allianz…was a deal made with the Devil?; Confessions of a Whistleblower; Claims By Harmon; More Claims By Harmon: Zurich; More Claims By Harmon: Insurance Commissioners; More Claims By Harmon: Marsh & McLennan; New Songs by The Whistler; Hawaiian Airlines; RICO in Paradise


August 4, 2005

3 More Execs Plead Guilty in Ongoing
Spitzer Insurance Brokerage Probe

Insurance Journal

Former employees of Marsh & McLennan, Inc. and Zurich Financial Services have pleaded guilty to bid rigging in insurance charges brought by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.

According to the Washington Post, Regina Hatten and Nicole Michele, both formerly of Marsh, pleaded guilty in state court to single felony counts of scheming to defraud. Jim Spiegel, who had worked at Zurich, pleaded guilty to a one felony count of restraining competition and trade.

Since Spitzer began his probe into the compensation and placement practices of large insurance brokerage houses, 14 executives have admitted wrongdoing.


January 8, 2005


By Diane Levick, The Hartford Courant

The St. Paul Cos. – now part of The St. Paul Travelers Cos. – was among the insurers that benefited from alleged bid-rigging by broker Marsh Inc., the New York attorney general’s office said.

A court document released Thursday on the guilty plea of a Marsh senior vice president draws St. Paul Travelers into the controversy, but does not make clear whether the insurer intentionally participated in any wrongdoing….

Robert Stearns, an executive in Marsh’s excess casualty business, pleaded guilty in a New York court Thursday to the felony of scheming to defraud in the first degree. It was the sixth guilty plea in a far-reaching probe of the insurance industry by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.

Stearns asked various insurers to submit bids that were less favorable than others, so Marsh could steer business to maximize its profits and protect incumbent insurers on certain accounts that were up for renewal, the felony complaint says.

The sham bids were sometimes called “B Quotes” or simply “B”.

In one example in March 2003, Stearns asked a Marsh broker in an e-mail to get a B quote from insurer Zurich on an account that would be renewing insurance with St. Paul, the complaint says. Stearns suggested “325,000 should work” because St. Paul’s price was $270,000, the complaint says.

Later that day, Stearns repeated the request, and the next day, a Zurich underwriter provided a $360,000 quote to Marsh, the document says.

In another March 2003 example, Stearns was asked by another Marsh executive to get B quotes on an account that was up for renewal with American International Group. “Further e-mails reflect that Zurich, ACE, and St. Paul subsequently offered losing quotes on this account,” the complaint states.

The document does not say whether St. Paul knew its quote for the account would be used in bid-rigging.

However, a Marsh broker’s e-mail that was cited in the document strongly implies he considered the B quotes laughable, as the broker told an ACE underwriter: “need a B for [expletive] and giggles.”

The client renewed insurance with American International Group.

St. Paul Travelers was not named in Spitzer’s bid-rigging lawsuit against Marsh in October, though the suit implicated several insurers including The Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. without naming them defendants.

However, Spitzer’s office has subpoenaed information from St. Paul and dozens of other companies.

Meanwhile Friday, Spitzer said he expects the guilty pleas he has gotten so far will lead to more charges.

“We are laying the foundation with these criminal cases that permit us to make criminal cases and bring criminal actions against those more senior within the companies,” Spitzer said after a state assemble hearing in New York, according to Bloomberg News.

In addition to Stearns, guilty pleas have come from two executives at AIG, two from Zurich American Insurance Co. and one from ACE.

In another development, Marsh & McLennan Cos. Inc. said Friday it has named E. Scott Gilbert to the new post of senior vice president and chief compliance officer effective Jan. 24. He was chief compliance counsel for the General Electric Co.

For more, GO TO > > > Claims By Harmon; Claims By Harmon: The St. Paul Travelers


November 12, 2004

News Release: Zurich reviews certain
business practices

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND – Zurich Financial Services (Zurich) has been conducting a review of certain business practices with insurance brokers, assisted by external counsel of LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae.

This review process, which includes a careful look at Zurich’s relationship with Marsh & McLennan as a result of the recent complaint filed against Marsh by the Office of the New York Attorney General, has led to the suspension of several employees of the Excess Casualty underwriting unit in the Specialties Business of Zurich North America Commercial.

Like many other companies in the industry, Zurich has been subpoenaed by the Office of the New York Attorney General to provide information as part of an industry-wide investigation. Zurich is complying with that request and it will continue to cooperate with the Office of the Attorney General.

The Group’s business relationship is built on ethical values as articulated in the “Zurich Basics.” These values do not condone improper behavior, and Zurich will take action wherever such behavior has been found….

For further information please contact:

Zurich Financial Services

Mythenquai 2, P.O. Box, 8022 Zurich, Switzerland


November 16, 2004

Zurich American Insurance
Executives Plead Guilty

Consumer Affairs

Two employees from Zurich American Insurance Company have pleaded guilty to criminal charges in connection with a bid rigging scheme, New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer announced….

The action is part of Spitzer’s ongoing investigation of fraud and anti-competitive practices in the insurance industry. Five executives at three major insurance companies have now pleaded guilty to criminal charges in the probe. Last month, two executives at AIG and one at ACE pleaded guilty to similar charges.

“The investigating is proceeding carefully and methodically,” Spitzer said. “Our goal is to determine the full extent of wrongdoing in the industry and its effect on consumers, to punish those involved in misconduct, and to implement appropriate corrective measures.”

In their guilty pleas, the underwriters admitted to following and executing the directions from a supposedly neutral broker to submit bids designed to lose, thus awarding the business to the designated “winner.”

According to the complaints, from August 2002 through September 2004, both defendants worked in a section of the Specialties Excess Casualty Unit at Zurich, and dealt exclusively with executives at Marsh Global Broking, a subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies.

Each defendant pled guilty to a misdemeanor under New York State’s Donnelly Act, which prohibits agreements in unreasonable restraint of trade and competition. They face a maximum sentence of one year in state prison.

The two Zurich underwriters, as well as the three other insurance company employees who previously entered criminal pleas, are expected to testify in future cases.

For more, GO TO > > > The Bad Faith Buzzards; Claims By Harmon; Confessions of a Whistleblower; New Claims by The Whistler; Nests of The Insurance Vampires


October 5, 2004

Probe not forcing Zurich sale

By Lisa Murray, The Sydney Morning Herald

Zurich Financial Services Australia’s chief executive, Tom Brown, has dismissed speculation that investigations by both the prudential and corporate regulators would prompt its Swiss parent to sell the business.

Mr. Brown also insisted the investigations, which have dragged on for more than three months, have not affected staff morale or new business levels.

The 55-year old former Lloyd’s executive has fielded calls from investment bankers since taking the job in July. Zurich is the sixth-biggest general insurer in the country and some analysts believe it would be a good fit for Promina or QBE.

“The assurances I’ve had from the group is that we are not for sale,” said Mr. Brown, who moved back to Australia from the UK to take up the position with Zurich….

Mr. Brown’s appointment followed the resignation of his predecessor, John Butler, amid an investigation by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority into a reinsurance transaction that took place in 2000.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission is also conducting a “formal review” of the company’s accounts to look at whether the reinsurance contract was used to prop up profits….


Zurich Financial Services

Annual Report 2003

= = =

Corporate Governance and Remuneration Report


Duration of the mandate and term of office of the head auditor

PricewaterhouseCoopers AG, Stampfenbachstrasse 73, in 8035 Zurich (“PwC”), is Zurich Financial Services’ external statutory auditor and Group auditor of its consolidated accounts. PwC assumes all auditing functions, which are required by law and the Articles of Incorporation of Zurich Financial Services. They are elected by the shareholders of Zurich Financial Services on an annual basis. At the ordinary General Meeting of shareholders on April 30, 2003, PwC was re-elected by the shareholders of Zurich Financial Services. The Board of Directors proposes that PwC be re-elected as statutory auditors and Group auditors for the business year 2004.

PwC and its predecessor organizations, Coopers & Lybrand and Schweizerische Treuhandgesellschaft AG, have served as external auditors of Zurich Financial Services and its predecessor organizations since May 11, 1983. In 2000, a request for proposals for 2001 and subsequent years was made by inviting all major auditing firms to submit work programs and tender offers, where the program and offer of PwC prevailed.

Mr. Roger Marshall of PricewaterhouseCoopers AG is the lead auditor, responsible since January 1, 2003….

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Management Board

James J. Schiro, 58, Chief Executive Officer

Nationality: American

James J. Schiro graduated from St. Johns University, New York, with a Bachelor of Science degree. … After qualifying as a certified public accountant, he joined Price Waterhouse in 1967 and held various management positions before becoming chairman and senior partner in the US firm in 1994. From 1995 to 1998, he integrated the US and European and other global operations of Price Waterhouse and was elected chief executive officer of the new company. After the merger of Price Waterhouse and Coopers & Lybrand in 1998, he became global chief executive officer of PricewaterhouseCoopers.

He joined Zurich in March 2002 as Chief Operating Officer-Group Finance and was appointed Chief Executive Officer of the Group two months later. He is a member of the board of directors of PepsiCo. He is also vice-chairman of the Swiss American Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Business Council of the World Economic Forum, a member of the board of trustees of the Lucerne Festival in addition to serving as vice-chairman of the American Board of IMD, Lausanne, as well as a member of the boards of trustees of St. John’s University, New York, and the Institute of Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey.

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Peter Eckert, 29, Chief Executive Officer

Nationality: Swiss

Peter Eckert graduated with a Diploma in Business Administration and worked in various areas of both insurance and reinsurance before joining Zurich in 1980, in charge of the Group’s Portuguese subsidiary … In 1988 he was appointed chief executive officer of Zurich’s operations in Australia….

Mr. Eckert is currently vice-chairman of the board of Deutsche Bank (Suisse) S.A. and deputy chairman of the European Insurance Association (CEA); he was chairman from 1998 to 2000. … He was previously a member of the boards of the respective insurance associations in Portugal, Australia and Switzerland….

Significant shareholders

On November 15, 2002, Zurich Financial Services was notified by Brandes Investment Partners L.P., San Diego, California, USA (“Brandes”) that as at November 11, 2002, Brandes beneficially held 11,831,383 registered shares of 8.22% of the voting rights in Zurich Financial Services….

For more on PricewaterhouseCoopers, GO TO >>> What Price Waterhouse?


August 3, 2004

IT Management: Outsourcing

Insurance giant Zurich strikes a ₤700m outsourcing deal with CSC

By Nick Huber, Computer Weekly

Zurich Financial Services has signed an IT outsourcing deal with Computer Sciences Corporation worth an estimated ₤700m….

The deal covers Zurich’s business in the UK, the US, Switzerland and Germany.

CSC will support all insurance lines written by Zurich and all business processes, including new business, underwriting, customer service and claims.

About 1,600 Zurich IT staff from the UK, US and Switzerland are expected to transfer to CSC in the final quarter of this year. Zurich staff in Germany are expected to transfer during the second half of 2005.

The deal between Zurich and CSC highlights the continuing use of large IT outsourcing deals despite criticism from some experts that this type of contract may not be flexible enough to meet changing business needs.

Michael Paravicini, chief information officer at Zurich, said the company would retain control of its business-critical IT systems. He explained that the CSC contract was part of a long-term strategy that had already seen desktops and networks outsourced to different suppliers.

A “certain proportion” of the CSC outsourcing deal would be handled offshore, Paravicini said….


January 8, 2001

Zurich Acquires Stake in New China Life

Insurance Journal

Zurich Financial Services announced that it has acquired a 10 percent stake in China’s fourth largest life insurance company, New China Life, for $39 million.

Zurich is part of a group of investors which includes the World Bank International Finance Corp, Japan’s Meiji Life, which also acquired a 10 percent stake, and the Netherlands Development Finance Co.

This is only the second time that foreign insurers have been permitted to acquire a significant interest in a Chinese life company. Swiss insurer Winterthur purchased an equity stake in Tai Kang Life last November.

In both cases the investors have pledged to provide technical assistance and training to their Chinese affiliates. New China Life, founded in 1996, is growing rapidly, and currently has 500 employees, and over 2500 agents. It wrote $120 million in gross premiums in 1999.

Malcolm Jones, a Zurich Financial board member who’s responsible for the Asia/Pacific region, was quoted by both the Financial Times and the Associated Press as stating, “We expect that the economic and social reforms such as the deregulation of medical care and pension business will increase the potential of the Chinese life insurance market tremendously.”


September 1, 2004

Welcome to Citibank

( )

Citibank Travel Insurance Plan

Comprehensive protection includes personal accident cover, loss of baggage, Terrorism cover and etc.

Citibank Mediexpress China Medical Card

Tailor-made for frequent cross-border travellers, this card offers medical cover and ensures prompt treatment in case of accident or illness.


>>> Zurich Insurance Company is the insurance underwriter of the Citibank Travel Insurance Plan and Citibank Mediexpress China Medical Card Plan and is sole responsible for all coverage and compensation.

>>> These plans are distributed by Citibank, N.A., Hong Kong branch


March 4, 2002

ISS Press Release

Internet Security Systems and Marsh Introduce Joint Program to Simplify and Expedite Qualification for CyberRisk Insurance

Atlanta, Ga – Internet Security Systems, Inc. (ISS) (Nasdaq ISSX), a leading global provider of information protection solutions, announced today a joint program in conjunction with Marsh Inc., the world’s leading risk and insurance services firm, designed to aid companies in expanding their risk management strategies to include online exposures.

“The increasingly restrictive property and casualty insurance market today has created an environment where companies cannot rely of traditional insurance policies to provide much protection for cyber-related risks. By many organizations have found it difficult to meet the strict and sometimes costly underwriting requirements of the insurance companies that provide specific cyber-risk coverage. This program will help clients qualify for state-of-the-art ciber-risk insurance and provide them with a robust risk mitigation solution,” said Hank Whiting, a managing director of Marsh….

Internet Security Systems’ Secure Steps program is composed of select Internet Security Systems’ managed security services, bundling managed firewall, intrusion detection and antivirus services together with emergency response services, to provide customers with the peace of mind that comes with 24×7 protection and a lowered total cost of ownership. Internet Security Systems designed this program specifically to provide the opportunity for its customers to contract with Marsh for cyber-risk insurance. ISS’ managed security services customers, and customers of ISS’ reseller partners that meet the program requirements, are pre-qualified for the insurance, which will be underwritten by either AIG eBusiness Risk Solutions – a division of American International Companies – or Zurich North America….

“Having worked with Marsh in pioneering cyber insurance in the marketplace, we are excited about the addition of ISS’s capabilities to the underwriting process,” stated David O’Neill, vice president, e-Business Solutions, Zurich North America Financial Enterprises.

“Used in conjunction with our innovative E-Risk Edge™ insurance product, the program will provide powerful protection for companies involved in e-commerce.”…

For more on Marsh & McLennan, GO TO > > > The Marsh Birds

For more on AIG, GO TO > > > The Un-American Insurance Group


< < < FLASHBACK < < <

June 1, 2000

Holocaust Claims Seen Wrongly Rejected

Reuters Company News

The International Commission on Holocaust-era Insurance Claims has accused five member-companies of wrongly rejecting some claims by Holocaust survivors, according to a document obtained by Reuters on Thursday.

The internal commission document making the accusation is part of the record in a California court case in which the European insurers are trying to overturn a state law that requires them to report unpaid Holocaust-era insurance claims.

The document said the insurers — Germany’s Allianz AG, France’s AXA, Italy’s General Assicurazioni, and Swiss insurers Wintherthur and Zurich Allied — had demanded too high a standard of evidence to back the claim….

Swiss banks two years ago reached a $1.3 billion agreement with Holocaust families to settle charges that they had prevented them from ever withdrawing bank deposits, partly by demanding impossible proofs such as death certificates from concentration camps.

Officials of the International Commission . . . listed examples of insurance claims that had been rejected under the Holocaust insurance panel’s fast track process.

One claimant had no policy documents, but in September last year put in a claim identifying the insurance company, the number of policies, and the city where the insurance was bought. The claimant sent in a letter written by the policy holder– shortly before he was deported by the Nazis– that listed all assets.

In February this year, the insurer told the claimant it had found no evidence of a contractual relationship, and that the letter was not adequate proof….

Elan Steinberg, executive director of the World Jewish Congress, which is a member of the commission, said the panel’s relaxed standard of proof was defined as “evidence which was plausible in the light of the special circumstances including, but not limited to, the destruction caused by World War II, the Holocaust, and the lengthy period of time that has passed since the insurance policy under consideration was obtained.”


June 2, 2000

Insurers Must Honor Policies Paid to Nazis

by Joan Gralla. Rueters

The World Jewish Congress on Friday said European insurers still have to make good on prewar policies sold to Holocaust survivors — even if the policies were cashed-in by Nazis….

“It is grotesque to describe a policy paid to a murderer as a paid policy,” Elan Steinberg told Reuters.

He said it was common practice for the Nazis to set up so-called blocked accounts– accounts held in the name of the recipient that could only be tapped by the Nazis….

In an internal document obtained by Reuters, the Washington D.C.-based commission has accused the five insurers of wrongly rejecting some claims from Holocaust families by asking for documents that they cannot possibly supply.

Few, if any, survivors walked out of concentration camps with insurance documents, bank books or other financial records….


March, 2000



From Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles

Farmers Insurance Group agreed to pay Nordhoff Townhomes Homeowners Association $20 million to settle a lawsuit which accused the insurer of refusing to rebuild a Northridge Earthquake-damaged complex.

A Los Angeles Superior Court jury had earlier awarded the condominium association $3.9 million it had sought to tear down and rebuild the two-building complex. The attorney for the association, Bernie Bernheim, estimated the settlement to be one of the largest bad faith insurance claims arising from the 1994 earthquake.


Farmers Insurance Hit With
7.5 Million Dollar Judgement

From Bowles & Verna

Two of the firm’s partners have just completed a six month jury trial against an insurance company that tried to avoid paying a claim by accusing its insureds of burning down their own home. The jury disagreed and awarded plaintiffs Stephan and David Phillips over $7.5 million dollars.

Fire Insurance Exchange (Farmers) insured the Phillips’ three story, 11,000 square foot residence located on 168 acres in Martinez, California, since the home was built in 1985. After an electrical fire occurred in the laundry room in June, 1994, the family moved out while Farmers prepared repair estimates. Five months later, with the repair estimates still not finalized, the house burnt to the ground. Shortly thereafter, the remaining structures were vandalized.

Although none of the investigative agencies was ever able to determine the cause of the November, 1994 fire, Farmers treated the claim as possible arson by the insured and refused to pay. Almost two years later, in September 1996, Farmers formally denied all of the claims, accusing the Phillips of setting the second fire, vandalizing their own property, fraudulently overstating their losses and breaching the insurance contract. Farmers then demanded the return of approximately $650,000 it had paid in connection with the first fire.

After over two years of preparation, the trial commenced in August, 1998, with Richard T. Bowles and Robert I. Westerfield of Bowles and Verna representing the Phillips. After hearing some 60 witnesses testify over a six month period, the jury deliberated for four days before finding that Farmers had breached the insurance contract, acted in bad faith and also acted with fraud, oppression or malice. The jury awarded approximately $3.5 million in compensatory and $3.3 million in punitive damages. The Court increased the recovery by awarding over $700,000 in attorneys fees. The Phillips’ requests for costs and interest and Farmers’ post trial motions are pending.


More Farmers Insurance bad-faith cases:


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Last updated October 10, 2006, by The Catbird.