Insurance companies must compete for business. As a result, their marketing materials try to make them sound like a person’s best friend. They claim if a client calls the insurance company, they will have their claim resolved immediately. They talk about being a neighbor or how their clients save money by switching to them. How do they keep rates low? They do so by paying out the least amount when someone files a claim against one of their customers.
While this may sound good, as everyone loves saving money, what happens when one of their customers is the one filing the claim? They may become a victim of the same tactics their insurer uses and they lose out on money they were entitled to. People need to think about this when choosing an insurer. Furthermore, they need to understand the tactics used. With this information, they can fight an insurance company trying to lowball their claim.
The following tactics serve as some of the most common techniques employed today by insurance companies. If a company is using one of these tactics when it comes to your claim, make certain your attorney is fighting it. If they aren’t, you need a new attorney.
Deny or Limit Liability
Individuals seeking compensation for an injury claim must show the defendant was negligent in some way and this negligence led to the accident and injury. A failure to do so leads to the case being dismissed. How exactly does someone go about establishing liability?
First, the plaintiff must show that the defendant owed them a “duty of care”. What exactly does this mean? It means the defendant was under a legal or moral requirement to secure the safety and well-being of other people.
Insurance companies often argue that the defendant wasn’t bound by this requirement. They do so by saying the victim engaged in behavior that was risky and therefore assumed the risk of an injury. For instance, a person hurt while skiing might find they cannot recover any damages because they knew this activity came with some risks. However, this is only one way the insurance company might try to limit the amount it must pay.
At other times, insurance companies try to shift the blame to the plaintiff. They say the victim contributed to their injury, arguing this individual either acted in a negligent manner or didn’t get the right medical care. As a result, they aggravated the injury.
Depending on where the case is heard, the victim might be held partially responsible for the injury and the compensation will be reduced accordingly. In some states, if the victim is shown to have any fault in the incident, they cannot recover damages.
What many people don’t realize is their insurance company uses the same tactics when they make a claim under their policy. How can a person ensure they get treated fairly regardless of who they are speaking to in regards to their claim?
A person should always act as if they are dealing with someone else’s insurer. A claims agent looks at the policy in an attempt to find a way to reduce the payout. They may try to have the entire claim thrown out. Often, they use exclusions in the policy as a way to reduce their obligation. However, clients have a right to challenge the agent’s assessment.
Some individuals choose to work with a third-party assessor to determine the true value of the claim. Others, however, work with an attorney to get the matter resolved. Doing so allows them to work with only one individual if the case must go to court to be resolved. They save time and money by working with an attorney from the start.
Minimizing the Injury
Another way insurance company work to limit their liability is to minimize the extent of any injuries. They use a variety of techniques to achieve this goal. Sadly, many victims fall into their trap without even knowing they did so.
A good example of this is the phone call insurers make to the victim of an accident. They claim they are making this call to get the victim’s side of the story. However, they record this statement and use things the injured party said against them.
For instance, the insurer may call the victim to obtain the recorded statement. When the victim answers, the insurer asks how they are doing. Most people in this situation respond with a one-word answer such as “fine”. The insurer uses this response to claim the injuries weren’t that severe. The victim did say they were fine after all, although most people recognize that is simply an automatic response to a commonly asked question. This one word can reduce the compensation the victim receives.
Additionally, many insurance companies bring in their doctor to do a medical examination of the victim. They claimed this is an independent exam, although they are paying the doctor. In many cases, the doctor says exactly what the insurance company wants them to. They know a failure to do so means they won’t get called in future cases.
Finally, the insurance company may try to say the victim had prior injuries they are now trying to attribute to the accident. They request the victim’s medical records to look for evidence to back up their assertion. Before turning over any records to the other person’s insurance company, consult with an attorney to see if this is required.
Insurance companies often cite a lack of evidence when denying a claim. For example, the insurance company might reduce the amount of the settlement. Their reason for doing so is they say the victim has yet to provide documentation from a medical professional that shows the injury was a direct result of the accident.
When a person fails to call law enforcement following an auto accident, the insurance company will try to deny the claim. They claim the victim was trying to hide evidence by not contacting the authorities, in reality, they do so to save themselves money. Insurance companies put their interests first, not those of the victim. Often, they put their interests above their clients as well.
Anyone injured in an accident should consider consulting an attorney. The attorney determines the strength of the victim’s case and how best to proceed. Don’t try to take the insurance companies on by yourself. They have lawyers working on their behalf, and you need the same. This ensures you have a level playing field when it comes to your claim.