Modern property insurance began in England after the Great Fire of London in 1666. Fire insurance for homes was one of the first types of insurance policies, followed by policies for life insurance. England made auto insurance mandatory in 1930. In the U.S., auto insurance began in 1927. Insurance is now one of the most powerful industries in the country. The U.S. insurance industry’s net premiums written totaled $1.2 trillion in 2015. These companies earn billions in profit every year and their CEOs are among our highest paid executives.
Our Love/Hate Relationship with Insurance Companies
Insurance is the tool that protects us from financial ruin after an accident. So why is it unpopular? Certainly, insurance companies have many caring employees who deliver great service. Our agent is likely to be our most trusted financial adviser. Yet insurance is the least popular of our essential industries. Is it their marketing which seems to be everywhere? Is it the overly persistent sales approach of some agents? Probably, the number one reason is the hassles involved in settling claims.
The claims process puts the needs of the insured at some odds with the goals of the insurance company. Organizations tend to act in their own best interest. For an insurance company, this means paying out the smallest amount possible toward your claim.
Here are some of the ‘tricks’ insurance companies use to keep their payouts to a minimum:
The Accident Statement
Shortly after an accident, the insurance company contacts accident victims for a statement. The company’s representative typically asks to record the conversation and asks for a statement of fault. Fair minded people are often honest about things they could have done differently. However, even a statement that you are sorry the accident happened can be twisted to work against you. The insurance company wants to see if you will admit even some of the responsibility for your accident or injury. Unfortunately, statements like that become ammunition against you in a settlement negotiation.
Don’t give an accident statement without your attorney present. Don’t consent to a recorded statement. Don’t admit fault when speaking to anyone from the insurance company.
The Quick Settlement Offer
Insurance companies may offer a settlement shortly after an accident. They want to ‘clear this up for you quickly’ or ‘save you hassle’. What they want is for you to sign a waiver that will limit or prevent you from pursuing the matter in the future. By offering to bring the matter to a quick conclusion, they are acting in their interest and not yours. Injuries are complex. Everyone’s body reacts differently to trauma and recovery time is not certain. Suppose your injury is more complicated?
If the insurance company is happy to write a check, is it the check they should be writing?
Don’t accept any settlement offers or sign any releases or waivers from the insurance company.
Talking You Out of Hiring An Attorney
The insurance company would be happiest working directly with you to negotiate your claim. Why pay an attorney? You are just splitting your settlement, they argue. The truth is very different. Insurance companies pay far lower settlements to people when they don’t have legal representation. Despite the attorney’s fee, injured people with attorneys keep more money than injured people without them.
Get qualified, competent legal help to resolve your claim.
Asking For Your Medical Record or Minimizing Your Injury
The doctor’s opinion of the severity of your injury is the only one that matters. Yet insurance companies may request your records – even your records from before the injury occurred. Many people provide them hoping that cooperation will speed the claims process. But unfortunately, anything we give the insurance company will probably be used against us. Remember, their interest is in paying out the smallest amount they can.
Don’t give the insurance company your medical records. Let your doctor judge your injuries. Let your attorney handle your claim.
Delay, Delay, Delay
Accidents are stressful. We want the paperwork, appointments, repairs and the bother related to accidents to end. Sometimes, insurance companies wear us down by being slow in processing our claim.
Don’t accept less than what you are rightly owed. Let your attorney fight for a prompt resolution to your claim.
Deny, Deny, Deny
Insurance companies dispute their client’s responsibility for an accident. If they can successfully argue that their customer is not responsible, they can avoid paying your claim. This is an area that your attorney will handle for you. Your attorney will fully document the cause of your accident and injury and prove that it was the result of negligence.
Don’t accept less than what is right. Let your attorney fight for you.
Following You on Facebook or Social Media
Insurance companies can use information we post on social media against us. They may monitor social accounts during a claims process. They look for ways that our social posts may conflict with our statements about our injury and recovery. Even the fact that we are posting may work against us if our claim is that we cannot work because of injury.
If you are an active social media user, be aware! Avoid posting about your accident or claim. Turn off geolocation and don’t check in to places.
Don’t give the insurance company anything that can be taken out of context or used to suggest that your injury is not serious.
In larger cases, the insurance company may have claimants watched. They want to see if we do anything that might disprove our case. Even normal activities like driving or running errands can be monitored and used to suggest that we are not truly injured. People who are injured or disabled need a professional in their corner who will hold the insurance company accountable.
Don’t give the insurance company any ammunition to deny your claim.
Let Hale Injury Law Negotiate Your Case
The team at Hale Injury Law has experience negotiating with insurance companies over years and thousands of cases. We know what the insurance company is supposed to do and how long it should take. Let us take the
Don’t let the insurance company pay less than is right. Contact us for a free consultation.