Posted in Car Insurance Claims on June 23, 2023
Some of the country’s most well-known insurance companies are known for making lowball settlement offers to their customers – while reaping record profits. Insurance companies work hard on having a friendly and trustworthy image. However, when it comes to making a claim, first and foremost the company will prioritize their own interests. When making a claim, how can accident victims ensure they get the compensation they are entitled to?
When an accident occurs, the person at fault (or their insurance company) is usually responsible for compensating the victim for any resulting damages. These can include physical injuries, property damage, and even emotional distress. The process begins when a claim is filed with the at-fault party’s insurance company. An insurance adjuster is then assigned to the case. They evaluate the details of the accident and the damages to determine how much the insurance company should pay. Remember, it’s the adjuster’s job to save the company money, so they may initially offer less than what the claim is truly worth.
The recognition of bad faith insurance practices is vital to ensure a fair settlement. At times, insurance companies might not act in the best interest of the claimant, exhibiting behavior known as ‘bad faith’. Instances can include invalid claim denials, incomplete investigations, or unjustifiable payment delays. Such practices are not only unethical but also illegal in many places. When there’s a suspicion of bad faith, one can assert their rights. Maintaining detailed records of all dealings with the insurance company and understanding one’s policy details is crucial for self-protection.
Mastering negotiation with insurance adjusters is a key skill in securing a fair settlement. Adjusters are skilled negotiators aiming to save their company money. Being courteous yet firm can be beneficial in these interactions. Remember, the initial offer from the adjuster often falls below the full worth of the claim. Claimants should prepare to challenge this with robust evidence of their damages. Assessing the cost of damages and refraining from hastily accepting the first offer can lead to a better settlement. Patience and preparedness are essential in these negotiations.
Collecting evidence is fundamental in bolstering an insurance claim. Immediately following the accident, if feasible, begin amassing as much information as possible. This could include photos of the accident scene, property damages, and any visible injuries. If witnesses are present, collect their contact details and statements. Also, preserve all medical records, bills, and any additional documentation related to the accident. This evidence paints a tangible picture of the accident’s circumstances and the resulting damages. The more comprehensive and organized the evidence, the more difficult it is for the insurance adjuster to dispute the claim, thereby increasing the likelihood of a fair settlement.
Understanding and asserting one’s rights as a policyholder are critical when interacting with insurance companies. As a policyholder, one has the right to fair and timely handling of their claim. They are entitled to clear explanations for any claim denials or delays. Also, it’s within their rights to reject the insurance company’s initial settlement offer if it fails to cover all losses. Reading and understanding the insurance policy is crucial as it is a legal contract that outlines the rights and obligations of the policyholder and the insurance company. Knowledge of these rights aids in holding one’s ground during negotiations and ensures a fair settlement is reached.
Effective documentation of medical expenses and lost wages is key to maximizing the claim’s value. Begin by keeping detailed records of every doctor’s visit, treatment, and medication. Obtain copies of all medical reports and bills. For lost wages, secure a statement from your employer detailing the time off work due to the accident and the resultant wage loss. If self-employed, gather records showing how the accident has impacted business income, such as canceled appointments or contracts. By meticulously documenting these losses, it becomes more challenging for the insurance company to dispute the claim, thus increasing the chances of a fair settlement.
Insurance companies often employ several tactics to devalue a claim. A common strategy is disputing the severity of injuries or claiming they were pre-existing and not accident-related. They may also question the necessity of medical treatments or allege that adequate steps were not taken to mitigate damages. Some insurers might also prolong the claim process, hoping for impatience and acceptance of a lower settlement. Understanding these tactics can help prepare appropriate responses. Detailed record-keeping, including thorough medical records and any evidence related to the accident, can counter these tactics, making it difficult for the insurer to devalue the claim.
Dealing with denials and delays in insurance settlements can be among the most frustrating aspects of the claims process. If a claim is denied, the insurance company should provide a reason. It should be reviewed carefully against the policy terms. Sometimes, a simple misunderstanding or clerical error that can be clarified or corrected may cause it. In case of delays, it’s essential to follow up regularly and keep a record of all communications. Remember, a timely response is a right. Persistence is key. In both cases, detailed record-keeping and a firm understanding of policy terms will be invaluable tools in navigating these obstacles.
Interpreting insurance jargon can be challenging, but understanding the policy is crucial. An insurance policy is filled with terms that might seem alien to the layperson. Commonly used terms like “deductible”, “premium”, “liability”, and “coverage limits” are essential. In simple terms, a deductible is what one pays out of pocket before the insurance takes effect, while a premium is the regular payment to keep the insurance active. Liability refers to legal responsibility for damages, and coverage limits are the maximum amounts an insurance company will pay for a claim. Familiarizing oneself with these terms can aid in fully comprehending the policy, ensuring one is adequately informed during the claim process.
Accepting a lowball settlement can lead to long-term consequences that significantly impact one’s financial health and overall wellbeing. A lowball offer may fail to cover all current or future medical expenses resulting from the accident. It might also inadequately compensate for lost wages, especially if the injury results in long-term disability. Furthermore, once a settlement is accepted, one usually can’t revisit and ask for more money later, even if they realize the compensation was insufficient. Therefore, it’s critical to evaluate not just current damages, but also any potential future costs related to the accident, before agreeing to any settlement offer.
If you have been dealing with an insurance company after an accident, contact us or call (504) 500-5000 today for a free consultation.