Alpine Glass Receives $137K Arbitration Award Against USAA
September 6, 2012

by Casey Neeley,

Alpine Glass of Minneapolis, Minn., has won an arbitration award against the United Services Automobile Association (USAA) in the amount of $137,019. This award, decided on August 27, is the most recent win in a string of arbitration victories Alpine has had against several third-party administrators alleging short pay.

The dispute arose between the two companies when, according to the memorandum from the amended arbitration, USAA "refused to pay the full amount of [an] invoice, asserting that the price of the glass part [windshield] was 'grossly inflated.'"

Mike Reid, president of Alpine Glass, says, "We made every attempt to work something out with USAA but they are one of the most uncooperative insurers I have run across in my 20 years in business."

"[The] USAA [award] is important because we won 100 percent of what we were seeking," Reid continues. "When we go into these cases, the burden of proof is on us to prove that our price is fair. In every instance we have proved that and therefore we have won in every single instance."

In the memo, arbitrator Peter W. Riley says, "as set forth in the Arbitration Award, the arbitrator has determined that USAA breached its contract in failing to make payment on the full Alpine Glass invoices."

Reid considers this another validation for not only his company, but also the auto glass industry as a whole. He hopes Alpine's consistent push against short pays helps other members of the industry see that they do not have to accept unreasonable payments from insurance third parties.

Alpine's attorney, Chuck Lloyd of Livgard & Lloyd, says "Alpine is not the exception; glass companies have had success in pursuing short pay claims. Although not uniformly across the board, the vast majority of claims asserted by companies, certainly in Minnesota, have resulted in additional payments."

"What helps is [other industry members] knowing that there is a remedy to get paid what's fair and reasonable and to recoup what the short pay is," says Reid. "That's my end goal; so the glass industry is aware that because you bill out $1,000 and the insurance company pays you $400, you don't have to eat that $600 short pay."

Alpine has been awarded several other arbitrations. On July 25, Alpine won a six-figure award against Liberty Mutual for short pays. Additional wins include five other six-figure awards from Illinois Farmers, Allstate and American Family.

According to Reid, Alpine will continue to bring legal action for fair payments.

"We will continue to collect what is owed to Alpine even if that means more arbitration," states Reid. "Our first goal is to work out a deal that is fair to both us and the insurers but when insurers such as USAA don't respond it leaves us no choice but to go through arbitration."

Lloyd adds, "Alpine intends to continue to pursue just compensation and if that means litigation against insurers, all indications are that Alpine is fully prepared to go down that path and do so very successfully."

Safelite may be behind the defense built in these cases, Lloyd speculates.

"It seems as though the defense of these arbitrations is being directed by Safelite; I say that because the arguments that the insurance companies are making are the same, the exhibits are identical and Tom Reid comes in and testifies every time," says Lloyd. "The arbitrators are consistently finding that the testimony and statistical information aren't credible and don't justify denying Alpine's claims."

USAA officials declined to comment on the decision.

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