July 24, 2008
Federal Bureau of Investigation
5525 West Gray St.
Tampa, FL 33609
FL Department of Insurance Regulation / File 1-506669660
Honorable FBI Director Robert Mueller III,
It is with great displeasure that I have to write you this letter today filing a consumer complaint against CCC Valuescope (CCCG) used by my insurer USAA to allege a fair “market value” of my automobile.
MADD Victim Services points out “It’s against the law to kill or injure another human being intentionally, maliciously, with criminal negligence, or while operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs.”
Nancy Stent, a 47 year-old drunk driver and repeat offender, whom Progressive Insurance breached its duty to protect the public when insuring her, was arrested by Volusia County Law Enforcement on July 8, 2008 for driving while intoxicated and causing bodily harm to me and destroying two automobiles before crashing her own.
My insurer USAA has breached its duty to exercise the utmost good faith to me its insured. By using CCC Valuescope (a company violating the U.S. federal RICO Act) USAA has intentionally provided me a low and fraudulent valuation of my automobile in hopes of obtaining an unreasonable and unfair settlement.
CCC Information Services Group Inc. ("CCCG"), incorporated in Delaware in 1983 and headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, is a holding company, which operates through its wholly owned subsidiary, CCC Information Services Inc. ("CCC").
CCC Valuescope (formerly known as CCC Information Services Group Inc – CCCG) can by no means be deemed a fair and market value of automobiles as CCC Valuescope works exclusively for insurers and therefore has an economic interest to supply valuations that are intentionally below the actual fair market value of what insured vehicles are truly worth. It is known fact throughout the insurance industry that CCC gathers its values from what car dealers would sell a vehicle for at basement wholesale prices, not the true “retail value of an auto of like kind and quality prior to the accident” as mandated by FL insurance regulations.
Cutting costs and denying its insured “the utmost due care” historically can be documented against USAA beginning with the class action lawsuit against USAA in Washington’s King County (March 12, 1999) for compelling auto repair shops to use "imitation" parts in repairs, while simultaneously hiding this practice from policyholders. Beyond auto insurance, USAA has countless complaints filed against it in 27 states across the country.
I noticed that a Mississippi couple - Admiral James Lisanby and his wife Gladys have sued USAA for $910,000, pursuing punitive damages for USAA’s neglect and resistance
to pay them what they are rightfully due for the Katrina tornado that tragically took so many people’s homes. This apparently is the 1st Hurricane Katrina insurance lawsuit to go to trial (June 16, 2008).
David and Marilyn Aiken (Gulfport, Mississippi) filed a lawsuit against USAA on January 18, 2008 for conspiring to defraud them full payment of their $680,000 homeowner-insurance policy with USAA.
As for CCC Valuescope it is not independent in their valuations since they are a hired gun for the insurance companies! Upon conducting a VIN search on the vehicles within the CCC report, many of them had over 20 records indicative of numerous collissions, issues with the vehicle, and several changes of ownership. By relying upon CCC’s intentionally low valuation of my vehicle, USAA is breaching its fiduciary duty to act in good faith in handling my claim. No fair and honest evaluation of my claim can be performed by CCC as it is contracted by insurers for the primary purpose of minimizing monies paid out by insurers to its fiduciaries. Hence by using CCC Valuescope, USAA is clearly not exercising the “utmost due care” in the interest of me its insured as required by Baxter v. Royal Indemnity (FL case law).
Even if CCC Valuescope is currently an “Official Used Car Guide” in the State of Florida, USAA (and any other insurers for that matter) can still violate the Unfair Trade Practices Act and State administrative regulations by relying on the CCC Valuescope product.
Such was determined also by the Court in the State of West Virginia cited below:
Sharon A. Bolyard and Patricia One-Bull, individually, and on behalf of all others similarly situated v. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, Nationwide Assurance Company, Michael Higgins, Raymond Little, and Mary Shafer - No. 062305. Petitioners seek to docket the certified questions from the circuit court as follows:
1. Whether an insurance company can violate the West Virginia Unfair Trade Practices Act or the administrative regulations promulgated thereunder by using, in compliance with West Virginia Code of State Rules §114-14-7.4, the CCC Valuescope valuation product if the Insurance Commissioner approved the CCC Valuescope product as an "Official Used Car Guide" pursuant to West Virginia Code § 33-6-33, and as defined by West Virginia Code of State Rules §114-14-7.2(d)?
ANSWER OF COURT: Yes.
2. Can an insurance company be found to commit common law bad faith, fraud, or constructive fraud for using, in compliance with West Virginia Code of State Rules §114-14-7.4, the CCC Valuescope valuation product if the Insurance Commissioner approved the CCC Valuescope product as an "Official Used Car Guide" pursuant to West Virginia Code §33-6-33, and as defined by West Virginia Code of State Rules §114-14-7.2(d)?
ANSWER OF COURT: Yes.
CCC admitted itself in its SEC Filing on 3-16-2005 that “the Company sometimes pays a new customer for the remaining commitment of its previous contract with third parties as an incentive”. In regard to regulation, CCC mentions in the same filing “in most states, however, there is no formal approval process for total loss valuation products”. CCC itself confesses in the same report “individual state departments of insurance have taken positions as to whether the use of CCC Valuescope valuations is in compliance with a states claim handling regulations”.
“The Company is aware that since 2002 the California Department of Insurance has advised some of the Company's customers (which management estimates to be approximately 14% of the total revenue earned in 2004 from the Company's CCC Valuescope valuation product and service) that the Department believed that their use of CCC Valuescope had not been in compliance with the California insurance regulations in effect prior to October 4, 2004, with respect to certain components of the products methodology. The Company believes the product was in compliance with the applicable California regulations.”
“On April 24, 2003, the California Department of Insurance formally adopted new regulations that required the Company to change its methodology for computing total loss valuations in California.” There is good reason therefore to believe CCC Valuescope’s valuation methodology is terribly flawed and skewed to favor its insurance company customers.
In CCC’s annual report filed February 13, 2004 the legal proceedings and numerous class action lawsuits against CCC are documented in pages 35, 42, 43, and 44 of the 53 page report.
On page 35, CCC Valuescope admits to setting aside $4.3 million as an estimate towards potential settlement to “resolve potential claims arising out of approximately 30% of the transaction volume of CCC Valuescope”.
By acknowledging 30% of transaction volume becoming potential claims, CCC Valuescope thereby makes it public record that it anticipates a sizeable percentage of lawsuits for unfair and fraudulent valuations. Such a high percentage of transaction volume alone attests to the flawed methodology of CCC’s report, its unscrupulous dealings, and wholehearted commitment to protect the financial interests of the insurers it serves.
Ironically, four of CCC Valuescope’s automobile insurance company customers have made contractual and, in some cases, also common law indemnification claims against CCC for litigation costs, attorneys' fees, settlement payments and other costs allegedly incurred by them in connection with litigation relating to their use of CCC’s flawed TOTAL LOSS valuation product.
Certainly the countless class action lawsuits filed across the United States against CCC Valuescape provides further evidence concerning the grossly low and inaccurate valuations of vehicles they give the insurers they serve. Among the many are:
CCC Settles Class Action Suit on Valuation of Total Loss Vehicles (July 15, 2005)
Chicago-based claims software-maker CCC Information Services Inc. announced that it and 15 of its customers signed a settlement agreement with the plaintiffs in various class action suits pending in Madison County, Ill. These consolidated suits, Case Nos. 01 L 157, et al., relate to the valuation of vehicles that have been declared total losses by insurers.
Terms of the settlement agreement will require CCC to pay notice and administration fees and other costs associated with the settlement. The company estimates that these costs will total about $8 million, and including available insurance proceeds of $1.8 million, the company is fully reserved for these payments. Other settlement costs, including claims by class members, will be paid by the insurance companies that are participating in the settlement.
On or about August 23, 2000, a putative statewide class action was filed in the Circuit Court for Hillsborough County, Florida, against CCC and USAA Casualty Insurance Company. The lawsuit is captioned Peter Sintes et al. v. USAA Casualty Insurance Company and CCC Information Services, Inc., Case No. 00-006308. Plaintiffs allege that USAA contracted with CCC to provide valuations of "total loss" vehicles and that CCC supplied valuations that were intentionally below the actual fair market value of the insured vehicle. The plaintiffs assert various common law claims against USAA seeking unspecified damages. The plaintiffs also assert a single claim for injunctive relief against USAA and CCC. Plaintiffs also request an award of pre- and post-judgment interest and an award of attorneys' fees, litigation expenses, and costs. The group of plaintiffs' attorneys who filed the Sintes case includes several attorneys who have previously filed similar cases against CCC and various of its customers in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois.
On January 31, 2000, a putative class action lawsuit was filed against CCC, Dairyland Insurance Co., and Sentry Insurance Company in the Circuit Court of Johnson County, Illinois. The case is captioned SUSANNA COOK V. DAIRYLAND INS. CO., SENTRY INS. AND CCC INFORMATION SERVICES INC., NO. 2000 L-1.
During January and February of 2001, the group of plaintiffs' lawyers who filed the COOK lawsuit filed ten (10) additional putative class action lawsuits against CCC and several of its insurance company customers in the Circuit Court of Madison County, Illinois. Those cases are captioned as follows:
LANCEY V. COUNTRY MUTUAL INS. CO., COUNTRY CASUALTY INS. d/b/a COUNTRY COMPANIES, AND CCC INFORMATION SERVICES INC., CASE NO. 01 L 113 (FILED 1/29/01); SCHOENLEBER V. PRUDENTIAL PROPERTY AND CASUALTY INC. CO. AND CCC INFORMATION SERVICES INC., CASE NO. 01 L 99 (FILED 1/18/01); EDWARDS V. MID-CENTURY INS. CO. d/b/a FARMERS INS. AND CCC INFORMATION SERVICES INC., CASE NO. 01 L 151 (FILED 2/6/01); BORDONI V. CGU INS. GROUP d/b/a CGU INS. CO. OF ILLINOIS AND CCC INFORMATION SERVICES INC., CASE NO. 01 L 157 (FILED 2/6/01); RICHARDSON V. PROGRESSIVE PREMIER INS. CO. OF ILLINOIS d/b/a PROGRESSIVE AND CCC INFORMATION SERVICES INC., CASE NO. 01 L 149 (FILED 2/6/01); BILLUPS V. GEICO GENERAL INS. CO. AND CCC INFORMATION SERVICES INC., CASE NO. 01 L 159 (FILED 2/6/01); HUFF V. HARTFORD INS. CO. OF ILLINOIS d/b/a THE HARTFORD AND CCC INFORMATION SERVICES INC., CASE NO. 01 L 158 (FILED 2/6/01); KNACKSTEDT V. ST. PAUL FIRE AND MARINE INS. CO. AND CCC INFORMATION SERVICES INC., CASE NO. 01 L 153 (FILED 2/6/01); MOORE V. SHELTER INS. COS. AND CCC INFORMATION SERVICES INC., CASE NO. 01 L 160 (FILED 2/6/01); TRAVIS V. KEMPER CASUALTY INS. CO. d/b/a KEMPER INSURANCE AND CCC INFORMATION SERVICES INC., CASE NO. 01 L 290 (FILED 2/16/01).
In each case, each plaintiff alleges that his or her insurance company, using a valuation prepared by CCC, offered an inadequate amount to settle his or her total loss claim. Each plaintiff seeks to represent a nationwide class of the defendant insurance company's customers, who, during the period from January 28, 1989, up to the date of trial, had their total loss claims settled using a valuation report prepared by CCC. Plaintiff asserts various common law and contract claims against the defendant insurance companies, and various common law claims against CCC. Plaintiff seeks an unspecified amount of compensatory and punitive damages, as well as an award of attorney's fees and costs.
Between October of 1999 and July of 2000, a separate group of plaintiffs' attorneys filed a series of putative class action lawsuits against CCC and several of its insurance company customers in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois. The cases are captioned as follows: ALVAREZ-FLORES V. AMERICAN FINANCIAL GROUP, INC., ATLANTA CASUALTY CO., AND CCC INFORMATION SERVICES INC., NO. 99 CH 15032 (FILED 10/19/99); GIBSON V. ORIONAUTO, GUARANTY NATIONAL INS. CO. AND CCC INFORMATION SERVICES INC., NO. 99 CH 15082 (FILED 10/20/99); KEILLER V. FARMERS INSURANCE GROUP OF COMPANIES, FARMERS GROUP, INC., FARMERS INSURANCE EXCHANGE, FARMERS INSURANCE CO. OF OREGON, AND CCC INFORMATION SERVICES INC., NO. 99 CH 15485 (FILED 10/20/99); STEPHENS V. THE PROGRESSIVE CORP., PROGRESSIVE PREFERRED INS. CO. AND CCC INFORMATION SERVICES INC., NO. 99 CH 15557 (FILED 10/28/99); MYERS V. TRAVELERS PROPERTY CASUALTY CORP., THE TRAVELERS INDEMNITY COMPANY OF AMERICA AND CCC INFORMATION SERVICES INC., NO. 00 CH 2793 (FILED 2/22/00); LEPIANE V. THE HARTFORD FINANCIAL SERVICES GROUP, INC., HARTFORD INSURANCE COMPANY OF THE MIDWEST AND CCC INFORMATION SERVICES INC., NO. 00 CH 10545 (FILED 7/18/00).
Between June and August of 2000, a separate group of plaintiffs' attorneys filed three putative class action cases against CCC and various of its insurance company customers in the State Court of Fulton County, Georgia. Those cases are MCGOWAN V. PROGRESSIVE CASUALTY INS. CO., PROGRESSIVE INS. CO., AND CCC INFORMATION SERVICES INC., CASE NO. 00VS006525 (FILED 6/16/00), DASHER V. ATLANTA CASUALTY CO. AND CCC INFORMATION SERVICES INC., CASE NO. 00VS006315 (FILED 6/16/00) AND WALKER V. STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INS. CO. AND CCC INFORMATION SERVICES INC., CASE NO. 00VS007964 (FILED 8/2/00). The plaintiff in each case alleges that his or her insurance company, using a valuation prepared by CCC, offered plaintiff an inadequate amount for his or her automobile and that CCC's TOTAL LOSS valuation product provides values that do not comply with the applicable Georgia regulations. The plaintiffs assert various common law and statutory claims against the defendants and seek to represent a nationwide class of insurance company customers. Additionally plaintiffs seek to represent a similar statewide sub-class for claims under the Georgia RICO statute. Plaintiffs seek unspecified compensatory, treble and punitive damages, as well as an award of attorneys' fees and expenses.
On August 2, 2000, a putative class action purportedly on behalf of certain residents of fourteen states was filed in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, State of Ohio, against Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company and CCC. WHITWORTH V. NATIONWIDE MUTUAL INS. CO. AND CCC INFORMATION SERVICES INC., CASE NO. CVH-08-6980. The Whitworth lawsuit was filed by a group of plaintiffs' attorneys that includes certain attorneys who previously filed three putative class actions against CCC and various of its customers in Fulton County State Court (reported above). The plaintiffs assert substantially the same claims and seek substantially the same relief as in those previously filed Fulton County actions. The plaintiffs further allege that CCC's TOTAL LOSS valuation service provides values that do not comply with applicable regulations in Ohio and 13 other states.
On or about March 27, 1998 a case entitled GARDNER V. ALLSTATE INDEMNITY
CO., CIVIL ACTION 98-D-480-N (M.D. ALA.), was filed in the Circuit Court of Montgomery County, Alabama. CCC is not named as a defendant in the case, and no relief is sought against CCC by the plaintiffs. In the Complaint, plaintiffs asserted claims against one of CCC's customers, Allstate Indemnity Co., for unjust enrichment and constructive trust and for breach of contract based on Allstate's use of an unidentified total loss valuation product. Allstate removed the case to the United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama in April 1998 (GARDNER V. ALLSTATE INDEMNITY CO., CIVIL ACTION 98-D-480-N).
Plaintiffs moved for class certification on August 28, 1998. Plaintiffs' class certification motion was granted on April 28, 2000. Pursuant to the April 28, 2000 order, the district court certified a plaintiff class of all Alabama customers who, from March 26, 1992 through the time of final judgment in the case, (1) have been insured under or paid pursuant to an Allstate auto policy, (2) whose vehicles have been declared a total loss by Allstate; and (3) to whom Allstate has paid out a claim for a total loss adjusted based on CCC valuations.
CCC Fairness Hearings
Final fairness hearing for the settlement of several class actions filed against CCC Information Services, Inc. was set for December 20, 2005 in the Circuit Court of Madison County, Illinois. The suits were styled:
(1) LANCEY v. COUNTRY MUTUAL INS. CO., AND CCC INFORMATION SERVICES INC., Case No. 01 L 113 (filed January 29, 2001);
(2) KMUCHA v. COLONIAL PENN INSURANCE COMPANY AND CCC INFORMATION SERVICES INC., Case No. 03 L 1267 (filed September 18, 2003)
(3) JACKSON v. ATLANTA CASUALTY COMPANY, INFINITY PROPERTY & CASUALTY CORPORATION AND CCC INFORMATION SERVICES INC., Case No. 03 L 1266 (filed September 18, 2003)
In connection with the settlement, CCC Valuescope was added as a party to the following additional cases, which assert claims and seek relief substantially similar to the above cases, namely:
(i) BORDONI v. CGU INSURANCE COMPANY OF ILLNOIS AND CCC INFORMATION SERVICES INC., Case No. 01 L 157;
(ii) SCHOENLEBER v. PRUDENTIAL PROPERTY AND CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY AND CCC INFORMATION SERVICES INC., Case No. 01 L 99;
(iii) RICHARDSON V. PROGRESSIVE PREMIER INSURANCE COMPANY OF ILLINOIS AND CCC INFORMATION SERVICES INC., Case No. 01 L 149,
(iv) KNACKSTEDT v. ECONOMY PREFERRED INSURANCE COMPANY, METROPOLITAN PROPERTY AND CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY AND CCC INFORMATION SERVICES INC., Case No. 01 L 153;
(v) HUFF AND MADISON v. HARTFORD INSURANCE COMPANY OF ILLINOIS, HARTFORD INSURANCE COMPANY OF THE MIDWEST AND CCC INFORMATION SERVICES INC., Case No. 01 L 158;
(vi) JACKSON v. NATIONALGENERAL INSURANCE COMPANY AND CCC INFORMATION SERVICES INC., Case No. 02 L 628;
(vii) PARCHMENT v. TRAVELERS PROPERTY CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY OF ILLINOIS, TRAVELERS PROPERTY CASUALTY COMPANY, AND CCC INFORMATION SERVICES INC., Case No. 02 L 1135; and
(viii) CARTER, VANOVER AND URKE v. ALLSTATE INSURANCE COMPANY, NATIONAL-BEN FRANKLIN INSURANCE COMPANY OF ILLINOIS AND CCC INFORMATION SERVICES INC., Case No. 02 L 717
The proposed settlement class consists of all customers of the settling carriers who had a total loss claim from January 28, 1989 to July 18, 2005, for which the Company provided a valuation to the carrier. This settlement includes no admission of liability or wrongdoing by the Company or its customers. Upon final approval of the settlement, the above-described cases will be dismissed and the Company will receive releases with respect to the matters raised in the lawsuits. The Company, in turn, has agreed to pay for all costs of settlement administration and certain other costs associated with the settlement. The Company estimates that these costs will total approximately $8.0 million. Other settlement costs, including the payment of claims made by class members, will be paid by the insurance companies that are participating in the settlement.
On July 18, 2005, the Court granted preliminary approval to the settlement, and a final approval hearing is scheduled for December 20, 2005. In the third quarter of 2004, the Company increased its reserve for this potential litigation settlement by $1.9 million to $6.2 million, which is net of an expected insurance reimbursement of $1.8 million. The settlement administrator has undertaken certain settlement administration activities and has sent notices to the class. The Company has paid approximately $2.7 million related to this work, which has been charged against the settlement reserve. Additionally, the Company has reached an agreement in principle to contribute approximately $2.9 million to the settlement of an additional case that has previously been disclosed, styled "PAK et al. v. FARMERS GROUP INC. and FARMERS INSURANCE EXCHANGE, Case No. CV98-04873 (Second Judicial District of the State of Nevada in and for Washoe County). As a result, the current recorded reserve has been increased by $2.9 million in the third quarter of 2005 to account for this anticipated settlement.
CCC Consumer Suits Against It:
Plaintiffs filed a writ of certiorari with the Georgia Supreme Court over the Georgia Appeals Court's affirmation of the dismissal of the charges in three class actions filed against CCC Information Services, Inc., namely:
(1) McGOWAN v. PROGRESSIVE CASUALTY INS. CO., PROGRESSIVE INS. CO., and CCC INFORMATION SERVICES INC., Case No. 00VS006525 (filed June 16, 2000);
(2) DASHER v. ATLANTA CASUALTY CO. and CCC INFORMATION SERVICES INC., Case No. 00VS006315 (filed June 16, 2000);
(3) WALKER v. STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INS. CO. and CCC INFORMATION SERVICES INC., Case No. 00VS007964 (filed August 2, 2000)
The Plaintiffs in these three cases, initially filed in the Superior Court in Fulton County, Georgia, seeks to represent a nationwide class of insureds against the Company and the named insurance company defendant and alleges that CCC's Valuescope valuation service provides values that do not comply with applicable state regulations governing total loss claims settlements. Plaintiffs assert various common law and statutory claims against the Company and the insurance company defendants, including claims under the Georgia Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) statute. Plaintiffs seek unspecified compensatory, treble and punitive damages, attorneys' fees and expenses.
As Attorney Edward M. Ricci, Esq. has written: http://www.riccilaw.com/CM/Articles/Articles37.asp
Insurance companies are in the business of protecting their insureds by spreading risks. In so doing, they are entitled to make a fair and reasonable profit. However, in the conducting of their business, insurance companies "owe a duty to the insured to exercise the utmost good faith." Baxter v. Royal Indemnity Company, 285 So.2d 652 (Fla. 1st DCA 1973).
Florida courts did not choose the word "utmost" loosely. The word is defined in the dictionary as "of the highest or greatest degree-the greatest possible amount-the maximum." American Heritage Dictionary of the English language.
The key to understanding insurance bad faith is to first understand the duty owed by an insurance company to its insured. Before one can understand bad faith, one must understand the definition of good faith. Paraphrasing the Florida Standard Jury Instruction MI3.1
"Good faith consists of settling a claim within policy limits when under all the circumstances the insurance company could and should have done so had it acted fairly and honestly towards its insured and with due regard for its insured's interest."
Phrasing the issue as simply as possible: an insurance company must put the interest of the insured ahead of its own. When it fails to do so, it is presumed to have acted in bad faith.
Why have the courts come down so strongly against insurance companies? Why have the courts imposed such strict duties upon insurance carriers? The answers lie in the nature of the insurance business. Insureds - ordinary citizens - sign contracts of adhesion when they buy insurance policies.
"When the insured has surrender to its insurer all control over the handling of the claim, including all decisions with respect to litigation and settlement, then the insurer must assume a duty to exercise such control and make such decisions in good faith and with due regard for the interest of the insured." Boston Old Colony v. Gutierrez, 336 So.2d 783 (Fla. 1980).
The consumer does not get to pick the language of an insurance policy. The ordinary consumer, unlike huge corporations, are faced with a "take it or leave it" deal. Accept the insurance in the form presented, or get no insurance at all. The standard policy reserves to the insurance company all control over the handling of claims. As a consequence the courts impose strict duties upon insurance carriers to act "fairly and honestly toward the insured and with due regard for his interests." FSJI MI3.1.
In conclusion, given the countless and ongoing class action lawsuits against CCC Valuescope there should now be no question that CCC Valuescope is not independent in its auto valuations and is guilty of violating the U.S. federal RICO Act and National Insurance Regulations, along with many of the complicit insurance companies such as USAA who willingly and knowingly use their product with the intent to deceive
What then do you propose to do about it to protect the insured motorists across the United States against fraud?
Paul F Davis
www.PaulFDavis.com - consumer advocate and minister