Tricks that Insurance Companies Use to Pay You Less
When you need an insurance company to compensate you after an accident, the process isn’t as simple as signing a few documents and collecting. In many cases, the process involves navigating complicated circumstances in which the insurance company tries to get away with paying as little as possible. This article looks at several such tactics used by insurance companies, and at how you can get around them.
After an automobile accident, you’re likely to require the insurance company to compensate you for the damage to your car and the injuries you face. Unfortunately, it isn’t in the interests of the insurance company to pay you as much as your case deserves. Their insurance adjuster is usually incentivized to find ways to minimize each claim — their annual performance evaluations and bonuses are linked to their ability to save the company money. They can come up with very effective ways to get you to accept lowball offers. An experienced personal injury lawyer on your side, then, can be an invaluable asset as you pursue compensation.
What follows are five common ways that insurance adjusters attempt to get you to accept lower levels of compensation than you deserve, and ideas on how a lawyer may help you overcome these challenges.
The insurance company may make an early settlement offer
You may greatly appreciate having the insurance company call you early with an offer right after you file your claim. It’s important to remember, however, that sometimes, these early settlement offers come with a hidden agenda. Right after your injury, it’s likely that the full consequences aren’t yet apparent to you or your doctor. It can sometimes take weeks or months to thoroughly diagnose your injuries and their fallouts. Additionally, you’re not likely to have had time at this stage, to contact a lawyer. When the insurance company puts in a lowball offer at this time, you’re likely to accept it, because you’re simply not aware of how deep your injuries and their consequences go. Certainly, not every fast settlement is unwelcome in this way. Often, however, it is, and it’s important to make sure that you speak to a personal injury lawyer before you accept a settlement.
They may ask you to allow them access to your medical information
Once you file a claim, you’re likely to be asked for various documents by your insurance company, and the insurance company of the other party involved in the accident. Some of these documents are likely to be straightforward and safe to sign. Among these documents, however, the insurance company may sometimes slip in a medical authorization form. Presumably, this form is meant to allow them access to some basic medical information. In reality, however, the form may allow them very deep access to your medical records, far greater than would be necessary for them to process your claim. Their aim could be a simple one: to find out about your medical condition, and to use this information to reduce or deny your claim. Consulting with a personal injury lawyer before you sign anything is a good idea to help make sure that your claim is processed without complications.
They may ask you to record a statement
Recording a written or oral statement for the insurance company, in which you describe the accident, may seem harmless. You simply tell them what happened, and place it on the record. In reality, however, when untrained people make legal statements, they tend to mention things in passing that they don’t need to, and get into trouble. For example, insurance company representatives could frame questions in a way that gets you to unwittingly admit to speeding, or being distracted while driving. Once you make such a statement, your claim could be in serious trouble. A personal injury lawyer could train you, and help you avoid such mistakes.
The insurance company may drag their feet
A personal injury can be a life-altering event. At least in the immediate aftermath, you’re likely to have increased medical expenses, and reduced earning power. In some cases, these circumstances may last indefinitely. Unfortunately, insurance adjusters sometimes try to take advantage of the financial pressure that you may be in. They may have the resources to delay responding to your claim, or delay making payments, to make you desperate for money, so that you become open to accepting low settlement offers. It’s important to have a lawyer guide you through the claims process so that you’re able to recognize these tactics and act appropriately against them.
The insurance adjuster may tell you that hiring a lawyer is not a good idea
It isn’t unusual for insurance adjusters to offer free advice to claimants, telling them in seemingly genuine language, that involving a lawyer is only likely to prove costly, and come with little advantage. The main reason for such words of concern is that they know that bringing in a lawyer usually does nothing but dramatically increase payouts, costing the insurance company dearly.
In truth, while lawyers do need to be paid, they tend to take cases up on contingency: meaning that they don’t get paid until you win a settlement. While you do need to pay them, you tend to end up with a net profit, because lawyers help increase the size of the settlement you receive.
The bottom line is that insurance claims are complex, and you need experts to guide you through the process. It doesn’t cost you anything upfront to find a personal injury lawyer. A lawyer can help you navigate the process with confidence.