Everyone knows that accidents are a risk of driving a car; after all, that is why we buy insurance. We want to be covered in the event we cause an accident and protected if someone else causes an accident and is uninsured or underinsured. As the old saying goes “insurance is something you need but never hope to use.” Insurance companies certainly hope that you never make a claim; simple economics will tell you they make more money by paying out less than they take in on premiums.
So when you’re involved in an accident, you’ll usually make an insurance claim to receive compensation for medical bills, property damage and other losses. But when you need to make the claim, does your insurance company really have your back? Sure, they have an interest in making you happy so that you continue sending in your premiums for years to come, however, insurance companies also have an interest in their bottom line; which may mean minimizing and devaluing your claim or even outright denying your claim.
Insurers often use tactics to avoid or delay paying valid claims. Here are some they use, and how you can avoid being a victim:
- Friendly ad campaigns and slogans: You want to trust someone who is “Like a Good Neighbor” or someone who tells you “You’re in Good Hands.” The insurance companies marketing efforts are focused on gaining your trust and confidence that they will be there when you need them. Don’t be fooled by what is seen on TV. Instead, understand that the insurance adjuster is not your neighbor, he or she is an employee of an insurance company who is in the business of making money.
- Advising you not to get a lawyer. Regardless what an insurance adjuster tells you, you absolutely have the right to have a lawyer handle your claim for you. Insurance studies have shown that claims handled by a lawyer typically receive more money than those handled by the injured party alone. Keep that in mind when an insurance adjuster tells you that a lawyer is not needed.
- Misstating the scope or amount of insurance coverage. Someone who is uninformed about the scope and amount of insurance coverage they have, may be more likely to settle for less money based upon representations of an insurance adjuster. Make sure you have a copy of your policy so you know your limits or, better yet, have an attorney review the policy to see how much insurance money is truly available.
- Slow investigations of your claim. In most states, including Ohio, statutes of limitation are in place which put time limits on when particular types of claims can be filed. While your claim in languishing in insurance review, time period in the statute of limitations is running and evidence which you may have been previously able to obtain is forever lost. To avoid being victimized by this tactic, seek legal help promptly.
- Offering unreasonably low settlements. This tactic is pretty straight forward; insurance companies do not make money by paying out. An insurance adjuster’s job is to settle the claim for a little money as possible. In turn, adjusters will offer small amounts of money hoping that you will accept to get the claim over with when you’re actually entitled to receive more. To avoid being misled by this tactic, don't settle your claim without first consulting your lawyer.
- Misleading you about how long you have to make a claim. Adjusters know that if they convince you too much time passed on your claim, you may accept a smaller settlement amount or give up your claim entirely.
These are just some of the misleading tactics insurance companies utilize to get you to give up your claim or accept a lower settlement. To avoid being victimized by these tactics, you an attorney to handle your claim with an insurance company. Using a lawyer makes recovering damages easier, you will be informed of all your rights, and you’ll almost certainly receive more money.
Contact an attorney at Triscaro & Associates today. Please call us for all your legal needs. We offer a full range of legal services to individuals, families and businesses, including personal injury, estate planning, real estate, family law and business matters. We are dedicated to providing the highest quality legal services at a reasonable cost.