The insurance company isn’t on your side – not by a long shot. From the moment of your contract, the insurer’s goals directly oppose yours. You want to get the full amount of money you’re entitled to after a car accident. The insurance company wants to hold onto every possible dollar.
But it’s not just a matter of conflicting objectives. It’s also about how each party approaches the interactions that must occur after a motor vehicle accident. There’s a reason almost 30 percent of people – not just car accident victims, but people over a wide range of demographic data and life experiences – reported that they had been taken advantage of by an insurance company.
Insurance Claim Issues
When Your Claim Has Been Denied
What do you do when an insurance company denies your claim? If the insurer had its way, you would just give up.
Perseverance is a must when dealing with an insurance company. If you’re the one who is injured and trying to go about your life or adjust to a completely new life, though, you likely don’t have the time or energy to be the “squeaky wheel” and keep bugging the insurance company.
If the insurance company denied your claim because of incorrect paperwork, don’t back down. It’s a common practice for insurers to intentionally send claimants the wrong forms just so they can deny the claim, according to the American Association for Justice. Keep demanding that the insurer assist you in getting the correct forms, or better yet, pass the burden off to an injury attorney who will handle this matter for you.
If the denial was based on the insurer’s opinion that you don’t meet requirements for liability or for the extent of your damages, the situation may be more serious. You will likely need a lawyer to help you prove liability and damages.
Most people aren’t familiar with the details of how the personal injury claims process works, and insurance companies tend to take advantage of this lack of knowledge. When a lawyer steps in, it becomes a lot harder for the insurance company to get away with this kind of unfair behavior. A good lawyer will insist that insurers treat their clients fairly and call them on any behaviors that constitute bad faith to policyholders or unlawful treatment of claimants.
When The Insurance Company Delays Your Claim
Does it seem like the insurance company is dragging its feet on your claim? If you’re getting the runaround, constantly being told that you must fill out new forms or waiting increasingly longer times for return phone calls, it might not be your imagination. The insurance company is, perhaps deliberately, delaying your claim.
Insurance companies make money off of the premiums they charge their policyholders, so it may come as no surprise that these companies are reluctant to pay out claims like yours. After all, that money comes directly out of the company’s profits.
What you may not know is that insurers invest that money they collect from policyholders so that their profits keep growing. Holding onto that money a longer benefits the insurance company. If that delay means you’re falling behind on your bills or having trouble paying for your medical care, that’s a sacrifice the insurance company is willing to make.
Delaying the legitimate claim of a car accident victim who is suffering is a despicable practice, and yet, it’s one that occurs over and over again.
Lowball Settlement Offers
Sometimes the facts of a claim are so severe that the insurance company knows it won’t be able to get away with denying the claim completely. Faced with the certainty that the claimant deserves a large settlement and is likely to get it, the insurance company may do an about-face and, instead of dragging out a claim, pressure the claimant to accept a settlement offer right away.
Getting your money fast sounds great, at first. The problem is that these initial settlement offers are well below what you really deserve. Insurance companies expect negotiation and start with a lowball offer, just as you might when haggling prices of a used car, for example.
The difference is that this lowball settlement offer is predatory. You need adequate compensation to move forward with your life after an accident. A lot of times, these offers come long before you have finished your medical treatment. You have no idea what the road to recovery will cost you, how long you may be out of work, or whether the injury will affect you permanently in some way.
When you accept a lowball settlement, you sign away your right to pursue compensation for this accident in the future. If it turns out that you need surgery, or if you never recover to such a degree that you can return to the job you had before the accident – none of that matters to the insurance company. It won’t reopen your claim, no matter how little you agreed to accept in the first place or how much the accident has impacted your life.
What Not to Do When Dealing With the Insurance Company
Don’t agree to give recorded statements.
Don’t sign a release or any other document.
Don’t chat with the insurance adjuster. Although he or she may seem friendly, the adjuster’s job is to find ways to get out of paying claims.
Don’t authorize ALL medical records. The insurer only has the right to see the medical records related to your accident, not your entire medical history, which is sometimes used to blame current medical issues on an unrelated issue from your past.
Don’t accept the first settlement offer. If an insurance adjuster offers you money, remember that it’s likely a lowball offer in the hopes that you’ll settle early, before you know the full extent of your damages.
If at all possible, limit the interactions you have with the insurance company. Every phone call, meeting, or piece of paperwork provides more possible pitfalls that could undermine your claim.
Will Your Insurance Premiums Go Up If You File a Claim?
A common concern drivers have is that, by filing a claim arising out of one accident, their auto insurance rates will automatically increase.
That’s not how it works.
When you get into what’s called a “chargeable” accident – generally, a crash in which you were at fault – the insurance company may choose to raise your premiums. This is true whether or not someone involved in that accident pursues a claim.
If the other driver was at fault for the accident, your premium rates shouldn’t go up. If a driver does see a rate increase that’s a result of a chargeable accident, filing a claim won’t have any bearing on this rate increase.
Don’t Fight The Insurance Company Alone
After an accident, you just want to be treated fairly. You’re not looking for a jackpot, just compensation for what you’ve been through. Yet too often, the insurance company is already trying to get out of paying what you deserve from the moment that first contact occurs. Contact an experienced car accident attorney for a consultation about your case. The call is usually free, and most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency basis where you don’t pay anything unless your case is settled successfully.