Dependent upon the nature of your incident, you may need to file multiple insurance claims at once. A good plan will make this easier while helping ensure you receive the fairest settlement.
Adjusters may attempt to dismantle your claim with tactics like delaying, lowballing and gaslighting. Here are six things you should keep in mind when dealing with insurers as well as finding an experienced insurance attorney nearby.
1. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions
People filing an insurance claim expect to be compensated for any damage or losses that have occurred; unfortunately, insurance companies sometimes deny legitimate claims or offer settlements that fall far short of expectations. By staying abreast of developments with regular follow-up and thorough documentation, policyholders can protect their rights.
One of the primary complaints people have against insurance companies involves rude and disrespectful insurance adjusters. Unfortunately, insurance companies tend to be large corporations with highly trained personnel that know all of the fine details of law as well as how best to defend against claims or decrease the value of them as possible.
As such, when communicating with an insurance adjuster it is imperative to pose direct and unambiguous questions in order to keep the conversation on topic and prevent you from saying something that could later be used against you in court.
If an adjuster asks you for photos of vehicle damage, it is vital that you respond by taking some of your own. Doing this shows that you are proactive and prepared to go beyond what may be required of them when it comes time to negotiate settlement. It will also strengthen your position when negotiations commence with them.
As part of your request for an estimate timeline on when an adjuster will complete their inspection or submit their settlement check, this can help manage expectations more easily and is especially useful when making arrangements for rental car usage or repairs to be completed.
As soon as necessary, it is also a smart idea to request the name and contact number of an adjuster’s supervisor. Sometimes having someone above them as someone to reach out to may help ensure your concerns get addressed more swiftly.
2. Don’t Be Afraid to Negotiate
Insurance companies are profit-driven corporations with every reason to reduce the amount of money paid out in claims filed against policies they insure, so they have every reason to offer lowball settlement offers in hopes that accident victims become so disillusioned that they will accept it out of frustration or desperation.
When negotiating with an adjuster, it’s essential that you remain confident and assertive. One way to do this is by being prepared and having high and low numbers prepared based on estimates you gathered – this gives a framework for negotiation as well as helping prevent them from taking advantage of you.
Preparing for negotiations requires keeping a diary or journal that records your communications with an insurance company and any promises they make, which will create a paper trail showing they kept their promises or did not mislead you in any way. Furthermore, this makes documenting pain and suffering much simpler should they proceed into court proceedings.
Negotiations requires emphasizing how your injuries have impacted and will continue to impact both physical and emotional aspects of life, and making sure this information is included as evidence in any final settlement offer. Documenting medical records or photographs could make this step much simpler; sometimes an expert may even be needed for his opinion on your injuries and their effect on daily living.
Insurance adjusters are not your ally; although they may appear friendly at first glance and give out helpful “tips,” their main aim is to save their company as much money as possible. Therefore, it is crucial that you prepare thoroughly prior to entering negotiations with an adjuster, taking your claim all the way until it reaches court (although sometimes even just the threat of one may convince an insurance company to offer fair compensation), consulting an experienced attorney first before agreeing to anything.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Take Legal Action
Insurance companies are bound by law to act in good faith when handling claims, yet this does not always happen. Instead, insurance companies often attempt to trick or manipulate claimants into accepting low-value settlement offers by either denying, postponing, misreading or disregarding evidence to reduce payout amounts and avoid paying the full value of legitimate claims.
Understanding and becoming aware of insurance company tactics is vital in order to safeguard yourself from them. Furthermore, when needed it’s advisable to contact an experienced insurance attorney as this professional will assist with negotiating compensation from the insurers on your behalf and making sure you receive what’s owed to you.
Be polite and professional when dealing with an insurance company. Furthermore, keep records of your conversations with their adjuster – this way you’ll have proof that any claims made by them were false or inaccurate.
Be prepared to answer questions regarding your accident and injuries or damages sustained, and any losses that arose as a result. If an adjuster attempts to question you about matters unrelated to your claim, stand your ground by explaining that such details won’t have an effect on its resolution.
If you have an attorney handling your claim, all communication between yourself and the insurance company should go through them to avoid an insurance adjuster trying to manipulate or pressure you into accepting less than what is due. An insurance attorney will also provide advice throughout the entire settlement process.
If an insurance company refuses to pay your claim or makes unreasonable demands, legal action should be taken. You could file a suit against them for bad faith practices such as denial of claim or refusing to cover all values associated with property loss; you can also sue for lost wages and medical costs associated with an injury caused by them.
4. Don’t Be Afraid to Be Honest
Honesty is key when working with insurance adjusters; however, that does not entail you making false statements regarding injuries or property damage. Lying could jeopardize your claim and could have serious legal repercussions; moreover, only divulge information required by law about yourself and others.
Insurance adjusters may try to persuade you of their impartiality by acting friendly or offering helpful “tips,” but beware as their goal is always to minimize the value of your claims and possibly get you to say or do things which could actually hurt your case.
If you want a higher settlement for your vehicle accident, be wary of telling an adjuster about having a second car or that it had been stored for years – this might lead them to believe you were at fault and reduce your payout accordingly. Furthermore, if your home was damaged by falling trees don’t say something like: I suspected the tree was rotting for months so was thinking about cutting it down; such statements suggest fault and might reduce compensation by an amount equal to its cost removal.
Ariely conducted research that demonstrated how people are more likely to be honest when asked to sign an honesty declaration at the beginning rather than at the end. This simple change that insurers can incorporate into their forms to encourage honest claimants can improve claimant honesty.
Maintain a commitment with your claims adjuster by remaining persistent if they do not return your calls or appear disinterested in responding. Being ignored could indicate they have assigned your case to someone else, or have out-of-date contact details; when this occurs it’s wise to leave a message with all of your current contact info in it.