Photo of Chip Merlin

Since 1983, Chip Merlin has served as a plaintiff’s attorney with a focus on commercial & residential property insurance claim disputes and bad faith insurance litigation. Chip is a noted national authority on insurance bad faith, lecturing to national trade groups and publishing a number of papers and articles on the subject for organizations such as The American Association for Justice, The Florida Justice Association, The Windstorm Insurance Network, and Trial Magazine.

As founder and president of Merlin Law Group, Chip has dedicated his practice to the representation and advocacy of insurance policyholders in disputes with insurance companies nationwide.

Chip served as Chair for the Bad Faith Insurance Litigation Group and Secretary for the Fire and Property Insurance Litigation Group for the American Association for Justice (formerly known as the Association of Trial Lawyers of America). He was also Vice-Chair for the Subcommittee on Property Insurance Law for the American Bar Association.
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USAA lost a jury bad faith trial in Mississippi with a $10 million verdict against it. The plaintiff policyholders are Paul Minor and his deceased wife. Paul Minor was a premier Mississippi trial lawyer and member of the Inner Circle of Advocates. For several weeks we discussed his upcoming bad faith trial against USAA, which arose out of Hurricane Katrina. Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005. This must be the last Hurricane Katrina case.
Continue Reading USAA Slammed For $10 Million Bad Faith Award

United Policyholders recently issued an important press release, Whistleblower Sounds Alarm On Unfair Insurance Practices: Oregon Consumers Need Stronger Legal Protections. While the entirety of the press release is important, one particular sentence stood out:

As Oregon law stands today, it is not financially feasible for an average citizen or small business to retain a lawyer and undertake a lawsuit to challenge unfair treatment by an insurance company.
Continue Reading Insurers Are Invited to Nitpick, Delay, and Underpay Claims If Consumers Have No Ability to Enforce Good Faith Obligations

AmGuard has been having trouble with delayed claims where it is not promptly responding to inquiries from its customers or making claims payments. A recent jury verdict in Missouri found AmGuard guilty of vexatious refusal to pay a fire, vandalism, and resulting freeze claim. I previously noted similar AmGuard conduct from a Washington case in Claim Delay Leads to Bad Faith Judgement.
Continue Reading AmGuard Guilty of Bad Faith—Do Not Ghost The Claimant!

A recent topic of this blog has been the made-up insurance fraud statistics by the insurance industry, which has been discussed in Is the Insurance Industry’s Fraud Statistic Fraudulent? and Insurance Professor Jay Feinman Comments About Insurance Fraud Statistics. I have always wondered why we encounter such few allegations of policyholder fraud from insurers such as Amica, Chubb, and Lexington Preferred who charge higher premiums and compete on service rather than price. These companies do not nitpick their customers to death, and the focus is on fully paying the loss right away.
Continue Reading Does Nitpicking On Claims Have An Adverse Effect on Policyholder Morals?

This weekend’s post, Is the Insurance Industry’s Fraud Statistic Fraudulent? resulted in several great comments. One was from Rutger’s insurance law professor, Jay Feinman, who wrote the book, Delay Deny Defend–Why Insurance Companies Don’t Pay Claims and What You Can Do About It. His book should be in everybody’s personal library.
Continue Reading Insurance Professor Jay Feinman Comments About Insurance Fraud Statistics

The federal judge’s remark in a denied summary judgment opinion from a fire loss currently in litigation caught my attention.1 I often wonder about the reasons why some cases resolve without litigation or appraisal, and some do not. Accordingly, I propose that readers of this post read the full opinion and think—what would I have done differently regarding the handling of the adjustment of this loss?
Continue Reading “Trouble Began Soon After” — A Weekend Case Study for Those Involved with Property Insurance Adjustments

A lawsuit filed by Church Mutual seems to be part of a trend of insurers analyzing high-value appraisal awards and not paying them. I recently mentioned the nationwide non-payment of appraisal awards by State Farm in
Why Has State Farm Stopped Paying Appraisal Awards? The instant lawsuit1 argues that the award inherently is subject to coverage determinations of unowned amounts because the appraisal panel said they never applied any of the policy conditions:
Continue Reading Are More Appraisals Being Challenged By Insurers—Why Go to Appraisal If Insurers Will Not Pay the Appraisal Award?

The insurance landscape in California has become more precarious as a result of the severe and incessant wildfires. The great urban fires of the 19th century caused many insurers to become insolvent. These great wildfires, not even in urban areas, are having similar property insurance market impacts—especially in California.
Continue Reading California Thoughts and United Policyholders