When you file a claim with an insurance company, there’s a good chance you’ll be getting more from them than you’ve paid them. Insurance companies make money by subsidizing this risk. Customers who pay every month and never file a claim help to pay the costs of those who do file claims. Because of this, the insurance company you pay every month isn’t going to be thrilled about having to fulfill their end of the bargain should the need to file a claim arise. They’ll try any number of tricks to pay you as little as possible, limit the amount they lose from your claim, and maximize the amount they get to keep from drivers who don’t need to file a claim.
While we can all relate to the idea of wanting to spend less money, it isn’t fair that they do it at your expense. This is not an exhaustive list, but it can help you better spot the ways in which insurance companies trick customers into accepting less money than they deserve.
It may appear to you that your insurance claim is straightforward. It’s probably obvious to anyone that hears the details that the other driver was liable. So you may be shocked when the other driver’s insurance agency tells you that they don’t recognize the liability and won’t be paying. They could do this for several reasons, which may or may not be valid. If you take no for an answer without requiring them to prove anything, they get away with paying nothing. They have little to lose by trying this tactic.
To deny liability, the insurance company may claim that your damages existed before the accident occurred. If the police report didn’t state who was at fault, they may deny liability until you prove that the other driver did indeed cause the accident. Whatever the reason they give for denying the claim, it’s always good to speak with a lawyer of your own to see if the excuse is valid, or if the company is just trying to save money.
Delaying payment in one way or another is a common strategy employed by insurance companies. Doing so provides them with two benefits. Insurance payouts are usually large sums of money. The longer that money sits in their bank accounts, the more interest it accrues. Over a large enough number of claims, this interest adds up. Meanwhile, your need for money to cover expenses could become dire. The greater your need for money, the more likely you are to take a lower settlement amount should they offer one.
They can get away with this because the average person doesn’t deal with insurance companies frequently. They simply don’t know how long the payment should take. Having an experienced lawyer handling your insurance communication gives you a champion who knows which delays are acceptable, and which aren’t.
Getting the most out of your insurance claim requires a full understanding of the options available to you. An insurance adjuster could directly misrepresent aspects of the policy to pay less. They might also avoid telling you about items you could claim or ways that you could increase the amount of money you receive from your claim. Like the previous example, this tactic relies on your ignorance of the nuances of the insurance system. Of course, an experienced attorney can negate this lack of experience and work to prevent insurance companies from taking advantage of you.
You’ve probably seen countless TV shows and movies where a character demands to have a lawyer read a contract before they sign anything. There’s a good reason for that, and it applies to insurance companies as well. The adjuster will send you many documents to sign before you can receive your payout. Many of these are legitimate parts of the process that the insurance company needs before moving forward. Sometimes, however, they are documents that can hurt your case. If you don’t know how to read and understand the often confusing language contained therein, you could end up signing something you shouldn’t.
Insurance companies want to catch you off guard. In addition to requiring unnecessary information, they’ll act as though they’re on your side. They’ll guide you through the process of filling out forms and answer any questions you may have. Getting your guard down like this accomplishes two things for them. First, it allows them to ask you questions in a way that may allow them to deny the claim. Second, by seemingly making the process as easy as possible for you, they minimize the chances you’ll seek an attorney’s help with the process.
We’ve already looked at ways by which an insurance company could prime you to accept a lower offer. Whether they do it after a string of other dirty tricks or lowball you right from the start, you shouldn’t accept less than you deserve. This can happen whether you are dealing with the at-fault driver’s insurance company or your own. It’s a good idea to talk to a lawyer who can examine the facts of your case and give you an estimate of how much your case is worth. That way, you can recognize when an insurance company may be trying to pull a fast one with their offer.
Insurance companies can take advantage of people who don’t have a lawyer representing them. When you have a car accident attorney fighting on your behalf, they can handle all communications with the insurance company for you. Most of the time, insurance companies won’t even bother playing games with an attorney. The experienced team at Ward Law can help. To have one of our attorneys protect your rights during an insurance claim, contact us today.
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