The controversial, much-publicized suit from David Harner against several auto glass TPAs and insurers has just undergone a change: Hanover, one of the insurers listed in the suit as being among the insurers who failed to pay claims due, has been removed from the list.
This is the latest development in what is turning out to be a true David vs. Goliath story, as Harner, the owner of an auto glass business in Westchester, takes on some of the biggest auto insurers and TPAs in the business. Safelite and its parent company are named in the suit, for instance, as indeed are LYNX and its own parent company, PGW. The allegations are myriad, and they echo some of the most common allegations being made by many independents in the auto glass industry against the big boys, from failure to pay allegations to charges of unfair business practices.
The removal of Hanover from the failure to pay list is the second such removal of the insurer from a list having to do with allegations by Harner. In July, Harner also removed Hanover from the list of insurers that he claimed had committed a breach of contract, being careful to stipulate that said removal would have no bearing on other actions being taken against the insurance company.
Further comment has yet to be found regarding this recent development, at least from the concerned parties themselves, but observers say it may be that Hanover has taken action to pay the claims alleged by Harner since the filing of the suit, as indeed happened with another company in the list of names Harner claimed to have perpetrated a breach of contract. This other company, Unitrin, was taken off the list by Harner subsequent to its payment of the fees due to Harner’s company.
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What is really getting people’s attention about Harner’s case, though, would be the allegations he makes about how insurers are providing a set of scripted statements to agents to use with policyholders that tend to guide said policyholders towards preferred auto glass repair shops and away from independents. This is an allegation that has been levelled specifically against LYNX, with Harner going so far as to actually provide script examples in his case.
Why does this get so much attention? Because many independents in the auto glass industry have been making similar claims for some time now, saying that the TPA-insurer-repairer relationships being built by the bigger companies in the trade are beginning to constitute unfair business practices that see majority of clients being diverted by insurance handlers to companies that are actually affiliated with their own, leading to a kind of monopoly that excludes smaller players from the game. While this is still under contention, Harner’s case is being expected to provide some prime instruction once an outcome is finally found, which is why so many people in the industry are watching it.
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