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AMERICANS EXPECT QUICK AND FAIR SERVICE FROM INSURERS, BUT MANY HIRE ATTORNEYS ANYWAY

 OAK BROOK, Ill., Dec. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- Most Americans expect automobile insurers to settle their claims quickly and fairly, a nationwide survey indicates. But many say they would hire an attorney anyway, especially if they were seriously injured.
 AMERICANS HAVE HIGH EXPECTATIONS OF AUTO INSURERS
 After an auto accident with minor injuries, I would...
 Expect the insurance company to settle my claim fairly 81%
 Expect the insurance company to settle my claim quickly 74%
 The survey, conducted for the Insurance Research Council by Roper Starch Worldwide, found that 81 percent of Americans believe they would be treated fairly by another driver's auto insurer, and 74 percent think their claim would be handled quickly. Still, nearly half (49%) said they would hire an attorney if they were injured in an auto accident, regardless of how minor the injury was. About 81 percent said they would hire one if they were seriously injured.
 FACTORS AFFECTING DECISION TO HIRE A LAWYER AFTER AN AUTO ACCIDENT
 PERCENT SAYING
 ``MAJOR FACTOR''
 How severe any injuries might be 75%
 If there is disagreement over who is at fault 62%
 How severe the property damage is 61%
 How mucm?e and money lost from work 50%
 Other driver has attorney 49%
 Bad past experience with an auto insurer 33%
 Believe insurers can't be trusted 24%
 Don't want to deal with claim 23%
 Process of filing is too confusing 20%
 Advice of friends or relatives 15%
 Radio and TV advertising 10%
 Top reasons for needing an attorney, according to the council's Public Attitude Monitor 1993 survey: the seriousness of the injury (75% called it a major factor), a dispute over who caused the accident (62%), and the amount of property damage (61%).
 About 48% of respondents said they thought an attorney would help then get a better settlement than they could get on their own, even after paying legal expenses. And 38 percent said the attorney would speed the settlement process.
 "Attorney involvement in auto insurance liability claims has increased dramatically in the past 15 years, to 57 percent today," said Donald Segraves, executive director of the Insurance Research Council. "But our claim studies show that injured people who deal directly with the insurance company wind up with as much or more money than those who hire attorneys, because the attorney takes about one- third of the settlement."
 Segraves said a forthcoming council study of auto injury claims also shows that the presence of attorneys drags out the settlement process, even for the injury liability claims involving payment of $500 or less. When handled by attorneys, 32 percent of these minor claims took more than a year to settle. Only 2 percent of similar claims without attorneys took that long.
 The council's Public Attitude Monitor survey involved in-home interviews with 2,004 Americans in May 1993. Topics included attitudes about fraud, auto insurance costs and workplace safety. Results from the full sample are accurate to within three percentage points, at the 95 percent level of confidence.
 The Insurance Research Council is a nonprofit research organization that studies issues related to risk and insurance. For a copy of Public Attitude Monitor 1993, write to the council at 1200 Harger Road, Suite 310, Oak Brook, Ill. 60521, or call 708-572-1177. Copies are $10 each in the U.S., and $20 elsewhere, postpaid.
 -0- 12/10/93
 /CONTACT: Donald W. Segraves or Elizabeth Sprinkel, 708-572-1177, Insurance Research Council/


CO: Insurance Research Council ST: Illinois IN: INS AUT SU:

LG -- NYFNS2 -- 2468 12/10/93 07:32 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Dec 10, 1993
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