How Your Insurance Company Devalues Your Claim
We hear it all the time, “you don’t need to hire an attorney after a car crash” or “I didn’t hire an attorney and recovered just fine.” We are also aware that millions of people don’t know that hiring a lawyer is even an option after a car crash. But choosing to deal with the auto insurance company on your own is like trying to fly across the country by yourself without a pilot’s license. It’s a bad idea.
Insurance companies spend millions of dollars on advertising to earn your trust. However, those same insurance companies use several tactics to deny and devalue auto crash claims. After a crash and unfair offers, clients may realize that auto insurance companies don’t deserve their trust. In many cases, they decide to contact our offices for one of the following reasons:
- Clients realize they’re more injured than they thought.
- Clients realize their vehicle is totaled or requires costly repairs.
- Clients realize how time-consuming dealing with the insurance company actually is.
- Clients realize they’re on the verge of financial ruin after the crash.
In each of these cases, you’re relying on the auto insurance company to provide you with the proper compensation so that you can recover both financially and physically. However, the insurance company will fight you every step of the way. Don’t fight the insurance company alone.
Fighting with the insurance company can become a massive pain in the you-know-what. But you don’t have to do it alone. A qualified personal injury attorney knows the tricks of the trade and knows exactly what to do to get you the maximum compensation possible.
These are the reasons you shouldn’t deal with an insurance company by yourself. Insurance adjusters will:
Try to catch you off guard
Shortly after your crash, the insurance company may contact you. They will act extra friendly to get you to let your guard down. The agent on the line will generally give you assurances that the insurance company will take care of you. They do this for a variety of reasons:
- To take advantage of your emotional vulnerability after a crash.
- To take advantage of you before you’ve had time to determine the full extent of your injuries.
- Before you’ve had time to talk with a lawyer.
It is important to keep in mind that during this conversation, the insurance adjuster is not on your side. The adjuster is trying to save the insurance company money. Often, the friendly demeanor is an effort to get you to let your guard down and reveal information that they can use against you later.
Ask for a recorded statement
Recorded statements are not for your benefit. They are a tool that insurance companies use to deny or devalue your claim. They will typically ask you pointed questions that may be used against you at a later date.
An insurance adjuster may contact you shortly after the crash, sometimes the same day, and ask you to describe your injuries. For example, the adjuster may ask you to describe your neck injuries, but later say that you never told them about back pain. The ultimate goal is not to cover your injuries or medical bills. If an insurance adjuster asks you for a recorded statement, you should politely decline and contact a personal injury attorney right away. Generally, you will want to give a recorded or written statement in the presence of your attorney. Your attorney will know exactly what questions are meant to trip you up.
Offer a quick settlement in exchange for you to release your claim
This is typically a tactic the insurance company relies on in the early stages of your crash. Much like contacting you within hours of the crash, the insurance company is relying on your vulnerability and rash decision making in the aftermath of a traumatic experience to get you to settle for an unfair amount in exchange for releasing your claim. Once you release your claim, you cannot go back and sue the insurance company for your actual damages. This means that if your injuries and property damage are more serious than you previously thought, you will not be able to pursue any other amount than what has already been agreed upon.
While it may be tempting to take the money and put the crash behind you, we strongly advise against it. This is a mistake that the insurance company wants you to make. After all, the insurance company wants you to settle for as little as possible to save them money in the long run. A qualified attorney can take a look at your case, your medical bills, future medical or therapy expenses and other damages such as pain and suffering and determine the amount you’ll require to recover from their insured’s negligence.
Convince you to sign a medical authorization
The insurance adjuster will likely ask you to sign a medical authorization so that they can pull your medical records. You may believe that this is for your benefit—that they’ll just use the information you consented to release to see what medical services you’ve had performed since the crash and then offer an amount to cover your bills. However, that is not the case. Instead, the insurance company will use your consent on your medical authorization to pull all of your medical information. They will look at your entire medical history and try to attribute your injuries to past medical conditions.
The insurance company will argue that your injuries are actually pre-existing conditions that were asymptomatic. They will say that even though the crash “reactivated” your injuries that their insured is not actually responsible for your injuries. This is just another way to get out of paying you what you’re owed. It’s best that you decline signing a medical authorization unless directed to do so by your attorney.
Many times insurance companies will dispute its policy holder’s liability after a car crash. In essence, the company is saying that its insured is not at fault or that you don’t have enough evidence to prove their insured is at fault.
Hiring an attorney is your best defense against this type of insurance tactic. The Carlson Law Firm has the resources to defend you from false allegations from the insurance company. We have dedicated attorneys, private investigators, nurses, field experts and a legal team who will investigate your case to determine fault and verify that your injuries are the result of your crash.
Dispute medical bills
Insurance companies will fight your medical bills and devalue your claims. The insurance company may say you weren’t that injured, or you were treated too long. They may even try to say that you could’ve recovered sooner or you received unreasonable treatment.
Remember, the insurance company is trying to save money. They will say anything in an attempt to pay less on your claim. Insurance companies have computer software that tells adjusters when to fight claims and what issues to fight on your claim. For example, the insurance company may fight you over the length of treatment, costs of your treatment or delays in treatment—even if the delay is only a week.
It is in your best interest to speak with an attorney. The Carlson Law Firm pays for your medical treatment so that you do not have to worry about the upfront costs of your treatment. We will take away the stress of money while you focus on your physical recovery and get the medical treatment you need.
Convince you not to receive certain medical treatment
If you try dealing with an insurance adjuster on your own, they may try to convince you to stop treatment and tell you that the insurance company won’t pay for it. However, if you listen to the insurance company, you may not get the treatment you need. In addition, listening to the insurance adjuster may hurt your case for financial recovery in the long run. The insurance company will use your failure to get treatment to imply that you’re not as injured as you claim.
We can’t stress enough that the insurance company does not have your best interest at heart. They don’t care about your recovery, only about the money they are able to save. You should not have to fight for the treatment you know that you need in order to completely recover from another person’s negligence.
Use delay tactics to get you to settle
After a traumatic event, you will likely face financial difficulties. The insurance company knows that you will be trying to balance mounting medical bills, loss of income, losing your vehicle or paying for repairs with your personal and work life. The insurance company will use this stress to their advantage. They realize that you are far more likely to settle when you are desperate enough for money to catch up on bills.
It’s important to remember that dealing with the insurance company by yourself adds to your stress. This is part of the reason that the auto insurance company doesn’t want you to get a lawyer. A lawyer’s job is to deal with the paperwork, adjusters, and negotiations so that you don’t have to. We will take away the stress so that you can focus on your recovery.
Confuse you by misrepresenting the law
When you choose to deal with the at-fault party’s insurance company alone, they will rely on your lack of knowledge of the law. For example, the insurance adjuster will try to convince you that you are not entitled to pain and suffering or lost wages. These tactics are for the sole purpose of devaluing your claims.
Do not accept legal advice from the at-fault party’s insurance company. A personal injury attorney from The Carlson Law Firm is knowledgeable of the law and has your best interests in mind.
Misrepresent the amount of coverage available for your claim
Insurance adjusters may try to convince you that there is only a certain amount available to pay on a claim. A personal injury attorney from The Carlson Law Firm has a whole team of savvy legal assistants, private investigators, and nurses who can investigate your claim and find out the limits of the at-fault party’s insurance coverage. In addition, a personal injury attorney can review your case to determine whether or not other laws apply to your situation.
Convince you not to hire an attorney
Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as an insurance company on your side. Insurance companies do not care about fully compensating people for their pain and suffering. Because of this, you have to rely on an attorney. An attorney deals with insurance companies and the law for a living, we are aware of all of the insurance company’s tricks and tactics. Much like the internet can’t teach you to perform surgery on yourself, it also cannot teach you the ins and outs of dealing with insurance companies.
The Carlson Law Firm employs private investigators who can get footage of your crash when possible, access the at-fault party’s information and even access phone records to prove the driver was distracted.
When Should I Contact a Car Accident Lawyer?
A personal injury attorney is your best advocate when dealing with the insurance company. If you were not at fault, you should really hire an attorney as soon as possible. Car accidents have the potential to be extremely life-altering and can leave you with serious injuries, property damage, and financial hardship.
Hiring a qualified car accident lawyer gives you the upper hand in situations where you have:
- Admitted fault, even though it wasn’t your fault.
- Can’t prove the at-fault party was negligent.
- Have injuries, even minor injuries after a car crash can turn out to be much more serious weeks down the line.
- There is extensive property damage to your vehicle.
- Believe you have a wrongful death case.
The claims process is not one to take lightly. Our firm puts your health above all else. Reducing stress after an accident is crucial to your recovery. Call us today to schedule a free case evaluation and leave filing paperwork and negotiations to a Carlson Law Firm car accident lawyer. We are here for you 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
- Written by Jill Fowler