Over the years, I’ve represented hundreds to hundreds of accident victims. This has allowed me to see how the insurance industry handles victims once they start the claim process.
Although most insurance adjustors are trained adversaries, I found this surprising, at least in the initial stages of the claims process. Most people understand that insurance companies exist to make money. They know that they can reduce costs and increase profits by settling claims as quickly as possible. Most people don’t realize how simple and sophisticated the methods used by the carrier to achieve this goal.
These are questions that insurance companies will often frown upon. These questions are often frowned upon by the insurance company because they can’t answer them or have no answer.
QUESTION 1 : Is it true that an attorney is more likely to get me a settlement than if my claim is settled on my own?
ANSWER : Do not be surprised if an adjustor lies to your face and answers “no” on this crucial question. How can I tell if the answer is false? A study done by the Insurance Research Council, a non-profit group funded by major insurance companies across America and entitled “Paying For Auto Injuries”, found that attorneys receive 4.8 times more in total compensation than claims where the victim settled on their own. The same study found that people who hire an attorney get 3.28 times more money once the attorney’s fees are paid. This study is well-known to most insurance adjustors. If the insurance company wants to maximize its profits, it will train claims representatives to discourage people from hiring attorneys. The insurance companies know that hiring counsel will result in a higher settlement amount, even after taking out the attorney’s fees.
QUESTION 2 – How can an insurance company confirm that the settlement amount offered to me is fair?
ANSWER: No, it can’t. It won’t. While the adjustor may tell you that the settlement offer is fair and reasonable, he cannot prove that all people with similar injuries receive more. You will not be able to judge the fairness of the settlement offer unless you are involved in the negotiation and settlement of injury claims. You run the risk that you accept a settlement amount that is less than what is reasonable for your claim if you negotiate and settle the matter yourself.
QUESTION 3 – You can find the accident information in the police report. Why do you need to record a statement?
ANSWER: The insurance company will use your statements against you. A police report will be filed for most accidents. The insurance company can easily access this report by submitting a request in writing and paying a small fee. What is the purpose of a recorded statement? Many companies have policies that require an adjustor to record a statement in order to determine if the accident victim has any information which can be used later to deny the claim or to pay less when settlement is reached.
QUESTION #4: Can I get a recording from my own insurance, i.e. the other driver, if I give you a signed statement?
ANSWER: No! This is unlikely to happen. This seems fair, right? It seems fair, doesn’t it? For the same reasons that the insurance adjustor won’t allow, you shouldn’t give an insurance company a recorded statement.
QUESTION 5 – Why must I give you an unrestricted authorization to treat my injuries before I can settle the claim
ANSWER : Insurance adjustors can review your medical records and determine if there are any issues that could affect your claim. This will allow them to either deny it or pay as little as possible. It is possible to collect all accident-related documents and send them directly to the carrier for review at settlement. The carrier won’t usually accept your request if you don’t have legal representation. Using an attorney will usually limit the amount of medical information that must be disclosed.
QUESTION 6 – Should I wait until my medical treatment is over or until I am certain that I have made a complete recovery before I settle the claim?
ANSWER : No. Because the insurance company knows that the faster the claim is settled, the more money it will pay. If your injuries become more severe, or you require more treatment than your doctor recommends, you cannot reopen the claim once you have settled the claim. Many insurance companies send written instructions to their claims department so that every claim is settled as soon as possible. This prevents accident victims from having to reopen the case later if their condition worsens.
QUESTION 7 – Why haven’t I been told about coverage for Uninsured Motorists (UM) and Underinsured Motorists (UIM)?
ANSWER. This is probably because not enough people realize that their policies may provide additional coverage to cover the damages and injuries caused by an accident. Your insurance company will pay you additional compensation under the UM/UIM section of your policy if the at-fault driver does not have insurance or isn’t able to pay for your damages. This coverage is something that many insurance companies don’t want to tell you about. It could mean you have more compensation.
QUESTION 8 – Will you pay your doctor to write a detailed explanation of why my treatment was appropriate and related the accident, if you claim that my medical treatment has been excessive or unreasonable?
ANSWER : No! This request will be denied by the insurance company. Why would it? Even though the claims adjustor does not have any medical training, it is possible for him or her to argue that your treatment was unreasonable or excessive. This is one of the many ways the carrier can reduce the value of your case so that you receive a smaller settlement than you would otherwise be entitled to. This problem can be solved by an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side.