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The Lexington Herald-Leader is reporting that a former Lexington casualty manager for Allstate testfied yesterday that Allstate’s claims practices sent injury victims to biased doctors and subjected them to intimidating interviews and invasive medical record requests in an effort to bully them into accepting low-ball offers for their pain and suffering.

Allstate Insurance Co. overhauled the way it handles claims in 1995. The overhaul created a dehumanizing process that boosted profits but denied soft-tissue injury victims in minor wrecks the compensation they were entitled to, said former Allstate regional casualty manager Debbie Niemer.

Niemer testified yesterday in a Richmond woman’s $1.425 billion civil trial in Fayette Circuit Court challenging the way the insurance giant handles claims.

“If they just wouldn’t have been so consumed by the numbers and allowed the human element,” Niemer said. “If they had allowed the adjusters to see the person, not just the number, it would have been different.”

Geneva Hager, 60, suffered neck and back injuries in a rear-end crash in 1997 in Lexington. Her insurance claim with Allstate, which insured the truck driver who hit her car, was not settled until December 1999.

Hager is now suing Allstate for allegedly handling her insurance claim in bad faith. Her attorneys say that the way Allstate handles claims, specifically soft-tissue injuries — such as whiplash — in minor-impact wrecks violates Kentucky’s Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Act.

For more information on this subject, please refer to the section on Car and Motorcycle Accidents.

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