Insurance companies put on a friendly face when soliciting your business. Every insurance company claims that it is friendly to the policyholder and always works in the best interest of the consumer. But that all ends when you submit a claim on your policy and it comes time for the insurance company to pay up. Insurance policyholders frequently find themselves in a seemingly never-ending struggle to get their insurance company to pay out at all when the policyholder needs it the most.
It does not matter if it is your automobile insurance carrier or your homeowner’s insurance: insurance companies will always attempt to lower the amount they have to pay out. When dealing with insurance companies, it is always important to look out for common tactics that could hurt your claim in the future.
Remember Whose Side the Insurance Company is on
No matter what a representative or insurance adjuster tells you, they are not on your side. They do not represent your best interests, they represent the insurance company itself. When you deal with an insurance company on your own, only you are acting in your own best interests.
If you would like a representative to help negotiate with the insurance company who is legally bound to act in your best interests, a personal injury lawyer will be able to assist you.
Advising You Not to Consult or Hire an Attorney
An insurance adjuster handling your claim will often tell you that you do not need a lawyer to handle your insurance claim. While this is technically true, it is bad advice. Studies have shown repeatedly that insurance claimants represented by an attorney routinely achieve better settlements with insurance companies than those who do not.
This is because like the adjusters and other attorneys representing the insurance companies, an attorney retained by you has years of experience and knowledge to combat false claims and cut through an insurance company’s stalling tactics.
Offering a Lowball Settlement in Exchange for a Release
Insurance companies know that people who file claims often need immediate funds to keep them afloat. A common tactic offered by insurance adjusters is to offer a quick settlement, usually a small amount of money that may seem substantial at the time, in order to get a signed release of any future liability.
While this offer may seem tempting, it is almost never in your best interest to take the quick settlement option. If you have been involved in an accident you may have injuries that you are not even aware of yet, some of which will not be known until months later. A quick convenient settlement will only hurt you in the future.
Delaying a Settlement Offer or Payment
Delaying a fair settlement offer can often be used in conjunction with the quick lowball offer discussed above. Insurance companies have vast amounts of resources that their policyholders do not have and they rely on this fact to throw their weight around and exert pressure on policyholders to settle. Many times policyholders will need money to pay medical bills or replace damaged property. Insurance companies make use of this fact to bully people into settling for less.
Deny a Valid Policy Claim
There are many legal reasons that an insurance company may deny a claim under your insurance policy. However, many insurance companies will do their best to work the facts against you in such a way to deny your claim even if it is a valid one. This is usually done by putting the fault and blame squarely onto you.
This could either be through blaming you for causing an accident or contributing to it. Regardless of the reason, insurance companies routinely deny claims based on unilateral assignment of fault by insurance adjusters.
Denying Your Injuries Exist or are as Serious as You Claim
A well-known tactic used by insurance companies is to claim that your injuries or damages are not as severe as you claim them to be or that they are the result of a preexisting condition. This is done in order to minimize the settlement offer. Insurance companies will also seek to have access to your medical records, take down written statements from you and even investigate you in order to disprove your claims of injury.
Report Unethical Insurance Company Tactics
In California, the Department of Insurance oversees complaints against insurance companies. The Department of Insurance acts as oversight for insurance companies and also handles consumer complaints. You may want to file a complaint against an insurance company and your insurance adjuster if the insurance company has:
- Refused to make any offer at all to settle your claim
- Provided false or misleading information
- Engaged in pressure tactics or other conduct you believe is unethical
- Substantially delayed your claim and making an offer
- Made only a token settlement offer with no explanation
Your complaint may not result in your individual claim achieving a better outcome. However, a complaint against the insurance company and your insurance adjuster is a red flag that they cannot ignore. Too many complaints can result in a state-sponsored inquiry into the insurance company. It may also serve to prod the insurance company into offering a better settlement agreement or to speed your claim along.
Fighting With Your Insurance Company? Let Us Fight for You
If your insurance company will not act in your best interests, let us do it for you. We here at Citywide Law Group in Los Angeles will negotiate with your insurance company and others to get you the best settlement offer and the compensation you deserve. Insurance companies have expert professionals and attorneys on hand to assist them and so should you. Contact us today for a free initial consultation at (424) 248-2700.
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