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According to the American Association for Justice (AAJ), Allstate leads the list of the "Top Ten Worst Insurance Companies in America." After a comprehensive review of thousands of legal documents and financial filings, AAJ notes a distinctive pattern of "insurance industry greed" that includes refusing to pay just claims, employing hardball tactics against policy holders, rewarding executives with extravagant salaries, and raising premiums while hoarding excessive profits.

Allstate set the standard for underhanded and immoral tactics, but there is plenty of shame to go around. Here is a synopsis of what the AAJ had to say about the top 5:

1. Allstate

Allstate contracted with consulting firm McKinney & Co. in the Mid-1990s to systematically force consumers to accept lowball caims or face its "boxing gloves", an agressive stategy designed to deny claims at any cost. One employee reoprted that supevisors told agents to lie and blame fires on arson.

2. Unum

One of the nation’s leading disability insurance providers, Unum denied the claim of a woman with multiple scloerosis for theree years, stating her conditions were "self-reported", contrary to doctors’ evaluations. In 2005, Unum agreed to a settlement with insurance comissioners from 48 states over its practices.

3. AIG

The world’s biggest insurer, AIG has engaged in massive corporate fraud and claims abuses. In 2006, the company paid $1.6 billion to settle a host of charges.

4. State Farm

Notorious for their deny and delay tactics (just ask victims of Hurricane Katrina) State Farm employed multiple engineering firms until if found one to support th denial of claims of the Nguyen family of Mississippi. In April 2007, under pressure from almost every supervising body, State Farm agreed to re-evaluate more than 3,000 Hurricane Katrina Claims.

5. Conseco

Conseco sells long-term care policies, mainly to the elderly. This insurer made it so hard to make a claim that one former agent was quoted as saying people either "died or gave up". Former executives were fined when they admitted to filing misleading financial statements with regulators.

The insurance industry takes in more than $1 trillion in premiums every year. It has $3.8 trillion in assets, more than the GDP of all but 2 countries.

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