How to Deal with Insurance Companies After an Accident
After a vehicle accident, one party you will have to deal with is the insurance company. While many may think that this is a straightforward process, it’s not. It’s a complicated aspect, and you should handle it with extreme caution to make sure you’re not taken advantage of and get the compensation you deserve.
10 Things to Keep in Mind When Reviewing Your Claim With the Insurance Company
1. The Insurance Adjuster is Not on Your Side
When an insurance adjuster comes to review your claims, he or she may look very helpful. However, don’t let that cloud your thoughts into thinking that person is on your side. He/she is a trained negotiator who works for the insurance company and will always protect its interests, NOT yours. That individual is trained to look for every possible chance to devalue or even deny your claim to reduce the money paid out.
2. The Insurance Company Is Not Obligated to Handle Your Claims Quickly or Treat You Fairly
You should keep this in mind, especially if you’re dealing with the insurance company of the other driver who caused the vehicle accident. Even if that other driver works together with the insurance company to validate your claims, it can still delay or even deny your claims. That’s why the first offer is usually very low.
3. Automatically Settling With the First Offer is a No-No
While you may be looking to move on with your life as fast as possible, the first settlement offer is in most cases not fair. Insurance companies know you need money quickly for car repairs and medical bills, and they will make a low offer immediately. They will try to convince you to accept it to reduce the compensation they pay for your losses. However, don’t be quick to settle; you may accept a lowball offer that won’t cater to everything as bills pile up due to medical bills, lost wages, and vehicle repairs.
4. The Insurance Company Will Try to Avoid Compensating Your Medical Costs
While it may seem unfair, the insurance company will try to prove you don’t deserve compensation for medical expenses. The company will suggest you’re trying to defraud it by lying about your injuries. Especially if you did not seek medical attention immediately, the insurance company will try to prove your injuries resulted from a pre-existing condition. Now that you have known this, ensure you keep a record of all doctor visits. These will be vital in your fight to ensure you’re justly compensated, even for medical expenses.
5. Watch What You Say
Going back to our first point, you must realize that insurance adjusters are not and will never be on your side. They will try to convince you to accept their car accident version, but DON’T do it. Insurance adjusters can and will use anything you say against you. Therefore, do not provide a recorded statement or accept to sign anything until you speak to a personal injury lawyer. The process may look pretty straightforward, but you may end up saying things unknowingly that may compromise your claim.
6. The Insurance Company May Recommend an Auto Repair Shop, But It’s Not a Must You Take Your Car There
How do you know the insurance company doesn’t have agreements with the recommended auto repair shop? You don’t, and that’s why you should take your car to a repair shop you trust. The recommended one may have agreements with the insurance company to cut corners and keep the company’s expenses low, for instance, by making fewer repairs than necessary or using inferior replacement parts. Choose a vehicle repair shop you trust yourself.
7. If the Insurance Company Has Decided to “Total” Your Vehicle, and Its Offer Isn’t Fair, You Have the Right to Appeal It
In most cases, insurance companies “total” vehicles if repair costs are 70% of the car’s value or more. If the insurance company you’re dealing with has decided to take this route, the check it gives you should be fair according to the car’s market value. Evaluate the offer thoroughly, and if you think it’s incredibly low, get your own adjuster to conduct a second assessment. You can then use that second assessment to counter the offer given by the insurance company.
8. Beware of Delay Tactics When You Refuse to Settle Immediately
Different states have varying statutes of limitations when it comes to filing an accident injury lawsuit. If you don’t settle with the first offer, the insurance company may use delay tactics in the hope you’ll surrender or miss the deadline to file your lawsuit. It may refuse to return your calls, transfer you to another agent, or even lose your paperwork. If the insurance company starts behaving this way, hire an experienced attorney to counter these delay tactics.
9. Don’t Be Intimidated by the Insurance Company’s Threats to Have Your Driver’s License Confiscated
Some insurance companies have developed an extortion technique that you should be aware of. After paying a claim for a policyholder, they turn around and issue the other driver with a collection letter. They do this without taking account who was liable for the accident or other agreements. Should you receive such a letter and threats to have your driver’s license confiscated, don’t be scared.
Instead, send a letter to the involved “collections” agency demanding proof of debt. Since these are just accusations, the insurance company won’t have any evidence to validate its debt claims.
10. If You Don’t Understand Something, Hire an Attorney to Evaluate It Before Signing
Never sign any document from the insurance company unless you are 100% sure you understand what it means. Read the fine print to ensure you’re aware of everything you’re agreeing. You may be quick to sign, only to realize later that you signed away your rights to file a lawsuit or pursue further losses, even if your injuries have worsened with time. To avoid issues that may cost you later, get a professional lawyer to evaluate any document you’re supposed to sign.
If you’ve been involved in a vehicle accident that resulted in injuries and other losses, the insurance company won’t have your best interests in mind. An experienced attorney is your best bet; he/she has dealt with lots of insurance companies in the past and can expertly handle the negotiations to ensure you get the full compensation you deserve.
Additionally, if an insurance company tries to use unfair tactics to deny or delay your compensation, an experienced attorney can help by filing a bad faith insurance claim.
Schedule a Free Consultation to Discuss Your Personal Injury Case With an Attorney
Don’t risk being taken advantage of by the insurance company and settling for less than you deserve. Oberheiden Law has skilled attorneys who can handle negotiations with the insurance company and safeguard your interests.